A breakthrough in medical research has uncovered a cause for multiple miscarriages, and could lead to new prevention methods. Researchers at Britain’s University of Warwick discovered that a lack of stem cells in a woman’s uterine lining can contribute to recurrent miscarriages, and the team is now setting about the challenging task of developing a treatment to stop history from repeating itself. This marks the first time in history that medical science has pinpointed a specific cause for recurrent miscarriages, and the development offers a glimmer of hope to women who struggle for years to carry a pregnancy to term.

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Medical professionals estimate that one in five pregnancies end in miscarriage, and one in every 100 women trying to conceive suffer from three or more miscarriages. The absence of a medical explanation of the recurrent losses can compound an already difficult experience for hopeful parents wishing to bring a new baby into the world. The researchers discovered that a shortage of stem cells in the lining of the uterus can essentially cause accelerated aging of the tissue, making viable pregnancies unlikely.

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The results of this new research indicates that this condition is pre-existing in women who might experience recurrent miscarriages. That is to say the miscarriages are not likely to occur because of a problem with the pregnancy itself, but rather in the state of the woman’s uterus prior to becoming pregnant in the first place. This isn’t a condition traditional fertility treatments would improve, so this discovery and the interventions it might lead to could fill in the gap for prospective parents.

Jan Brosens, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology who led the team, says this breakthrough should give hope to women suffering from recurrent miscarriages. “I can envisage that we will be able to correct these defects before the patient tries to achieve another pregnancy,” she said. “In fact, this may be the only way to really prevent miscarriages in these cases.”

This spring, the same research team that discovered the link between stem cell deficiency and miscarriage will begin developing strategies to help women restore stem cells, improve the condition of their uterine lining, and potentially end the devastating series of miscarriages that prevent them from having a baby. Researchers will also begin testing those intervention methods this spring.

via The Guardian

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