A UK study has found that restricted growth of an embryo may help predict miscarriage.
Researchers at the University of Nottingham tracked the growth of over 500 embryos before 12 weeks and found that 78% of singleton pregnancies that miscarried showed growth restriction. Also, 98% of singleton pregnancies that carried to term, were not growth restricted.
The case was different in twin pregnancies, however, where only 28% of growth restricted embryos miscarried.
Lead researcher, Dr Shyamaly Sur, said this may help identify risk of miscarriage, but the question remains, what’s causing the growth restriction?
“There are various reasons why some embryos show restricted growth in the early stages of pregnancy. It could be down to an abnormality in the fetus or something in the environment of the womb,” he said.
The scientists tracked the growth of 247 single and 264 twin embryos conceived through IVF (the IVF gave them better data about precise gestational age). The embryos were measured via ultrasound in the first trimester and the pregnancies were followed to birth. (Apparently the IVF pregnancies show similar patterns to non-IVF pregnancies.)
Dr Raj Mathur, consultant gynecologist at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge, told the BBC that this is a good study, but there are other issues to consider: “We also need to consider the woman’s health history, look at the picture of the whole woman. This study adds to our knowledge about risk but we also need to look at blood supply to the embryo and whatever genes are passed on from the father too.”
I wonder how this research will play out for moms in gynecologist and midwives’ offices around the world? Will women get information about growth restriction and risk of miscarriage at some point before 12 weeks? If so, how would this affect our feelings, anxieties, behavior, and decisions about things like prenatal testing?
If you could have information about the risk of miscarriage– once pregnant– would you want it?