Wednesday, May 30, 2007

NICHD Research on Miscarriage

The NICHD supports and conducts research on the causes of miscarriage in hopes of finding ways to prevent women from having them. For instance, NICHD-supported researchers recently found that women with a disorder called Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) are three times more likely to miscarry during the early months of pregnancy than women who don't have PCOS. Women with PCOS often have great difficulty getting pregnant naturally.

Research has found that women with PCOS also tend to have a condition called insulin resistance, which means their bodies have trouble using the insulin they make to get energy from their cells. Insulin resistance often occurs before someone develops diabetes. To treat this insulin resistance, researchers had been prescribing a drug called metaformin. What they found was that metaformin not only reduced insulin resistance, but it also brought about changes to the uterine lining that could help women with PCOS get pregnant and reduce the risk of miscarriage during their first trimester (the first three months) of pregnancy.

Studies are now underway to confirm the positive effects of the using metaformin in women with PCOS, and to evaluate the safety of taking the drug throughout pregnancy. The NICHD's Reproductive Sciences Branch, through its Reproductive Medicine Network (RMN) is currently conducting a clinical trial for the treatment of infertility related to PCOS, using metaformin. The RMN Web site provides more information on this trial and on the RNM itself.

Other NICHD-supported research is trying to learn more about repeated miscarriage. Researchers estimate that between 1 percent and 2 percent of women in the United States has more than one miscarriage without a known cause. Women who experience repeated miscarriages may undergo expensive and lengthy tests to try to identify a cause, but often get no answers. NICHD researchers, examining the vulva of these women, have found that many of them share a genetic mutation, or change. This mutation, on one of the X chromosomes, was found in nearly 15 percent of women who had a history of repeated, unexplained miscarriage. If this genetic mutation is confirmed as a cause of repeated miscarriages, researchers may be able to develop a simple blood test that could predict a woman's chances of having a miscarriage in future pregnancies.

For more information on NICHD-supported research on miscarriage, read the Institute's news releases on miscarriage. The National Library of Medicine provides additional information on pregnancy loss, which includes miscarriage. For more information, visit the Medem™ Website and do a search for "recurrent miscarriage" in the medical library.


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