At-risk pregnant women to be given new drug to prevent early miscarriage

Women who have had at least one miscarriage and have experienced early pregnancy bleeding should be treated with progesterone.

Progesterone treatment may prevent early miscarriage
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Progesterone treatment may prevent early miscarriage

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has issued a new guideline that can result in an additional 8,450 births in the UK per year.

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According to research, progesterone treatment can really benefit women who have had a previous history of miscarriages. The hormone is produced naturally and aids in the preparation of the womb for the growing foetus.

Miracle worker

Approximately one in every five women experiences bleeding, or spotting, during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. It is usually harmless, but some women may have a threatened miscarriage if the bleeding continues during the pregnancy. Therefore, NICE recommends inserting progesterone pessaries into the vagina twice a day. It worked for a patient, and she added:

If this is what is going to make it OK for us… it's just miraculous. All we've ever wanted is to become parents.
So to actually get this far and to have the opportunity and have the progesterone, gives us incredible hope.

This recommendation is based on an experiment conducted by experts at Tommy's National Centre for Miscarriage Research. The trial revealed that progesterone didn't make much of a difference for women who only had bleeding and no previous miscarriages. However, the more miscarriages a woman experienced, the more potent progesterone became.

High hopes

Miscarriages occur in about one out of every four pregnancies, with the great majority occurring in the first few months or trimester. As such, Prof Arri Coomarasamy, from the University of Birmingham who is also behind the progesterone trial, said:

This is a very significant moment. We have an intervention that works that can stop a miscarriage. This gives hope to thousands of couples throughout the UK.

It is great that NICE has discovered a solution and found a way out for couples trying to conceive. However, there is still a long way to go before the best treatments for women who have lost a pregnancy for no apparent reason can be found. NICE's chief executive, Professor Gillian Leng, believes that progesterone will not be able to prevent every miscarriage. Prof Coomarasamy said:

But it's really important to appreciate that only some miscarriages can be prevented by progesterone. There are other causes for miscarriages. We still need to study them. We need to find other effective treatments.

However, progesterone treatment will still benefit certain women and is a low-cost treatment option that would be made available to the women on the NHS.

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