University of Warwick

Understanding recurrent miscarriage

Around one per cent of all women experience recurrent miscarriage, which doctors define as the loss of three or more consecutive pregnancies. The experience can be devastating, with many women suffering both physical and emotional distress.

Research by Professor Siobhan Quenby and Professor Jan Brosens from Warwick Medical School has helped to develop a better understanding of the causes of recurrent miscarriage and led to tests to identify women at risk of further pregnancy loss. They have discovered that to have a successful pregnancy, the lining of the womb must be ‘receptive’ to implanting the embryo but also ‘selective’. In women suffering from repeat pregnancy loss, the lining of the womb appears excessively receptive but insufficiently selective. This explains why many women who experience recurrent miscarriage report that they find it very easy to become pregnant but then fail to hold onto the pregnancy.

The research has led Prof Quenby and Prof Brosens to believe that the cause of miscarriage, especially in repeat pregnancy loss, lies in the preparation of the womb before pregnancy. Together they have developed a new pre-pregnancy endometrial test that identifies women at increased risk of subsequent pregnancy failure and treatment.

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