Have You Suffered Repeat Miscarriages? Stem Cells May Hold the Clue

miscarriage stem cells

Finding out you’re expecting a baby is one of the most joyful moments in life. However, losing the baby before it’s even born can be devastating. If you have had three or more miscarriages in a row, it is called recurrent miscarriage, a condition that can leave you feeling utterly hopeless. There are several reasons that a woman is not able to carry a baby to term. Known causes of recurrent miscarriage range from blood clotting disorders and genetic problems to abnormally shaped reproductive organs, vaginal infections, and hormonal imbalances. However, in about half the cases of recurrent miscarriage, doctors are unable to identify the cause.

Now a new study has identified another possible reason for unexplained recurrent miscarriage: a shortage of stem cells in the lining of the uterus. A research team, led by Jan Brosens, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Warwick in England, has looked at the lining of the womb for potential clues to recurrent miscarriage. They found that some women already have a defect before they become pregnant.

The findings are likely to bring down the number of cases of unexplained recurrent miscarriage and help researchers find solutions to the problem. It is envisaged that if the problem is corrected before the patient conceives, it may prevent another miscarriage. This is important in light of the fact that in women with recurrent miscarriage, the risk of further miscarriage increases slightly with each miscarriage.

As many as 15 to 25 percent of all pregnancies end in miscarriage, but most women go on to conceive again and carry another baby to term. However, about 1 in every 100 women experiences recurrent miscarriages, sometimes simply on account of advancing age. The older the woman is, the more likely she is to suffer a miscarriage. If the baby’s father is older, this also increases the risk of miscarriage.

The new study published in the journal Stem Cells looked at samples of uterine lining from 183 women and found that those who had suffered repeat miscarriages lacked stem cells in their uterine lining. Stem cells have the potential to develop into several different cell types in the body and are vital to the regeneration of tissues and organs. The lining of the uterus sheds during each menstrual cycle and must also renew itself after miscarriage or childbirth. The shortage of stem cells in the uterine lining could possibly be accelerating aging and increasing a woman’s propensity to miscarry. Researchers noted that the cultures from women who had suffered recurrent miscarriages showed aging cells that were not adequately prepared for pregnancy.

The real challenge now is to develop interventions to supplement this shortage of stem cells and improve the regenerative potential of the uterine lining. Strategies also need to be developed to screen and identify women at high risk of repeat miscarriages. Procedures such as the “endometrial scratch” are promising methods of helping the fertilized embryo implant more successfully by increasing the population of stem cells in the lining of the womb.

1. https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_157663.html

2. http://www.babycentre.co.uk/a1039328/understanding-recurrent-miscarriage

Mira Swave, MD

Contributor at Regenerative Medicine Now

Mira Swave, M.D. is a specialist in the field of Regenerative Medicine.
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