Erin - posted on 10/25/2009 ( 6 moms have responded )
I watched a current affairs program tonight on some new research being done into the causes of recurrent miscarriage. The following is taken from the IVF Australia website:
In the case of recurrent miscarriage, a cause can only be established in about 50% of cases.
Fertility specialist with IVFAustralia, Dr Gavin Sacks, is researching what role, if any, Natural Killer Cells have in unexplained recurrent miscarriage.
Natural Killer Cells are white blood cells which are produced by the body to fight infection.
Through Dr Sacks research, he estimates that around 15% of women with unexplained recurrent miscarriage have higher than usual levels of Natural Killer Cells in their uterus.
Dr Sacks, together with scientists and pathologists at St George Public Hospital in Sydney, has developed a simple blood test that measures the level of Natural Killer Cells in the uterus of pregnant women. Higher than usual levels of Natural Killer Cells in the blood and uterus can be treated with a simple steroid tablet which will suppress the body’s immune system. Such treatment may prevent miscarriage, and help a woman to achieve a full term pregnancy.
Now that a test has been developed to measure Natural Killer Cell levels, Dr Sacks plans to establish a large clinical trial to determine the effectiveness of suppressing the immune system in women with high levels of Natural Killer Cells to prevent miscarriage. The results of such a trial may not be known for a number of years.
The story showed one couple who went through 20 miscarriages with undetermined cause before having this steroid treatment and finally managing two full-term pregnancies. While their perseverance obviously paid off, I honestly can't imagine going through that many losses and still trying.
The other issue that came out of this story for me was the impact maternal age has on recurrent miscarriage. The two other examples were both of increased maternal age. One was 41 and had suffered two miscarriages after delaying starting a family. She was (naturally) devastated, but said she put it off so she could experience life and now felt she was better equipped to be a mother.
The other was 39, had suffered three miscarriages, and regrets leaving it so long, despite now being 4 months pregnant (the furthest she's ever made it). She explained that despite keeping healthy in every other way, her eggs were still 39 years old, and she simply didn't foresee this being a problem for her when she was in her 20s.
So I guess my questions are....
Can you imagine continuing in a quest for a baby after 10, 15 or 20 miscarriages? Or would the stress simply be too much?
Does this new technology regarding Natural Killer Cells seem as exciting to all of you as it does me? The idea that a simple blood test can show a likelihood of miscarriage (due only to this problem ofcourse - not due to congenital abnormalities) seems almost too good to be true for women with ongoing fertility issues.
And can a woman who chooses to delay having a baby til later (ie, late 30s and onwards) really be surprised if things don't go according to plan? Now I'm in no way implying that their grief should be any less, or that they should necessarily choose to start trying for a baby sooner. But we know chances for problems in pregnancy increase dramatically with age, so I guess I was just a bit surprised that women are still putting it off til later, only to then turn around and be shocked when those problems do indeed happen. And I'd also like to add I'm not talking about women who have struggled with infertility for years and finally succeed later in life. The women in the story specifically said they INTENDED to wait.