A new study has been published in the peer-review journal PLoS ONE carried out by out by researchers from University Medical Center Utrecht, The Netherlands, Endokrinologikum Hamburg, Germany, and the University of Warwick and University of Southampton in the UK may have a clue to the cause of recurrent miscarriage in some women.
This small study looked at 12 women, 6 who have been through recurrent miscarriage (defined as 3 losses in a row) and 6 control women. They wanted to look for specific causes for recurrent miscarriages such as embryos with genetic abnormalities implanting instead of the body rejecting them from the start.
The study compared cells from the lining of the uterus of women who have suffered recurrent miscarriage and those without this history and with normal cycles. They took biopsies of the endometrium and watched how these cells migrated to both high-quality and low-quality embryos in both the control group and those with a history of recurrent miscarriage.
The study concluded that women who have been through recurrent miscarriage were more likely to implant low-quality embryos based on their observations.
The main researcher Professor Nick Macklon, a consultant in obstetrics and gynaecology at the Princess Anne Hospital in Southampton said of the results, “we have discovered it may not be because they cannot carry; it is because they may simply be super-fertile, as they allow embryos which would normally not survive to implant.”
I personally have mixed feelings on this study and the conversations it is starting. Click through to read my personal opinions on this study and the results:
As you likely know, I have a history myself of recurrent miscarriage. I have been through multiple occurrences of it having gone through 12 miscarriages and have three living children. In my work with Unspoken Grief I am in contact with many women daily who are in the throes of perinatal grief and I am grateful when research is done to try to understand the under-workings of multiple loss such as this study.
However, this study in particular and the comments by the lead researcher leaves me feeling a bit uneasy.
Many women — especially those who have recurrent miscarriage often want to find out the ‘why’. It can be healing to understand what is going on and take some of the blame many feel off of themselves when they understand what’s happening beyond something they “may have done.”
This study, with the researcher saying things like, “it is because they may simply be super-fertile, as they allow embryos which would normally not survive to implant [emphasis mine]“, has the potentially damaging effect of downplaying an already shadowed pain and grief.
Society already encourages us to silence our early miscarriages with the “don’t tell until 12 weeks” rule leaving many women not at all supported and alone in their grief. We are already told things like “at least you can get pregnant” or “there must have been something wrong” and while I understand the need for this research, I worry that the message may take over the idea.
Even early losses due to “low-quality” embryos deserve to be grieved for and women deserve support.
Early miscarriage due to “a non viable embryo” does not diminish the need for support.
While this study can have the potential to open up more understanding of what could be happening, the conversation reflects what society feels — that early miscarriage is not a big deal — and that needs to change.
photo credit: istockphoto
study source: PLoS | ONE
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