Miscarriages are devastating, especially to the women who have suffered them frequently. But thanks to new research, doctors may finally understand what causes chronic miscarriage — and may even be able to develop a treatment plan to prevent it.
According to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists, as many as one-quarter of all pregnancies end in miscarriage. But while health experts have identified a number of risk factors that may make it more likely for a woman to have a miscarriage — including age, smoking and malnutrition — no one has ever really understood the reason that some women are just more likely than others to have repeated miscarriages.
British researchers at Warwick University in the U.K. have learned that a lack of stem cells in a woman's uterine lining could cause a pregnancy to fail. After looking at the tissue samples of the uterine tissue of 183 women, researchers found that the women who reported experiencing repeated miscarriages had fewer stem cells in this tissue lining than those in the control group.
Researchers theorize that the uterine lining relies heavily on stem cells to rebuild itself after every menstrual cycle, miscarriage or birth. So when these stem cells are lacking, the uterus is not able to adequately repair, and this leads to an aging of the uterine lining that could result in the loss of a pregnancy.
The big question now is how researchers can use this information to develop a solution for women who suffer from repeated miscarriages. The team behind this study is hoping to develop a treatment protocol — to be tested as soon as this spring — that could increase the number of stem cells in a woman's uterine lining and possibly prevent future miscarriages.