Wednesday, March 11, 2009

New bid to halt miscarriage misery

A unique research project aimed at helping thousands of couples avoid the misery of repeated miscarriages and other pregnancy complications has been launched by leading medical experts.

Expectant couples at five major London hospitals are to be invited to participate in the so-called "Baby Bio Bank", which will collect blood from both mothers and fathers and samples from the umbilical cord and placentas of babies as well as other detailed medical history.

Researchers hope the bank will act as a resource for major medical research projects across the world examining the causes of recurrent miscarriage, growth problems in the womb, pre-eclampsia, or high blood pressure in pregnancy, and pre-term delivery.

Professor Lesley Regan, of St Mary's Hospital in London, an international expert on recurrent miscarriage, said the four pregnancy complications targeted by the bank should not be viewed in isolation. She said they all had a link.

"I think the change in our understanding is that you don't look at them in isolation," she said.

She added: "We have done studies that have shown that the levels of psychological distress and disturbance in couples who have repeated miscarriages and lose babies is very similar to that in psychiatric hospitals. It really is an enormous burden on people."

Professor Gudrun Moore of the Institute of Child Health and an international researcher on pregnancy complications, said she hoped the bank would act as a database and the project would extend in scope.

She said: "The aim of this project is that in the long term we will save the lives of women and their babies and protect families from some of these birth disorders."

The bank is receiving more than £1 million from the Lord Mayor's Appeal 2008 and hopes to get underway at the beginning of June. The project has been created by the charity Wellbeing of Women.

Currently around 250,000 UK pregnancies end in miscarriage and more than 50% of stillbirths remain unexplained. Statistics also show that one in 13 live births in England and Wales are pre-term and 25% of premature births are caused by pre-eclampsia.


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