A new procedure may reduce the rates of miscarriage

Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for pregnant women to experience a miscarriage. According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) approximately 25% of all recognized pregnancies end in miscarriage. The chances of having a miscarriage increase as women age, with estimates of up to half of pregnancies ending in miscarriage among women over the age of 42.

Although many women who experience a miscarriage are eventually able to carry a child to term, a small percentage of women suffer two or more miscarriages – a condition called recurrent pregnancy loss. These losses are often unacknowledged by others and can be emotionally devastating for a woman and her partner. The known causes of recurrent pregnancy loss include but are not limited to diabetes, abnormal hormone levels, problems with a woman’s uterus, and genetic and chromosomal abnormalities of the embryo. However, in the majority of cases (50 – 70%), no cause can be identified.

Recently however, a new procedure has been developed to assist women suffering recurrent pregnancy loss. During an IVF (in-vitro fertilization) cycle, biopsies are conducted on the outer cells of the embryos that have been created, to identify those that are chromosomally normal – and therefore have the highest chances of survival. One or two of these “normal” embryos are then transferred into the woman’s uterus, in the hopes that they will implant and develop into a healthy fetus. Dr. Timothy Hickman of Houston IVF says the procedure is typically performed with women suffering recurrent miscarriage, older women who are likely to have chromosomally abnormal embryos, or women who have repeatedly miscarried after several rounds of IVF or whose embryos fail to implant.

One woman, Charlotte, experienced 6 miscarriages before electing to try this new procedure. The first time her fertility specialist performed the biopsy, all of her embryos were abnormal. During a second biopsy, one normal embryo was identified, which developed into a healthy baby girl – Charlotte’s daughter, Victoria. However, it is important to keep in mind that this is a relatively new procedure – one that could benefit from further research and investigation.

If you have had two or more miscarriages, it may be helpful to consult a fertility specialist to determine the possible causes and available treatments. You might also benefit from speaking with a mental health professional who specializes in reproductive health, and/or consider joining a support group in your area or on-line, to help cope with these “invisible” losses.

Read about another procedure that may help reduce the rates of miscarriage for women living with endometriosis here.

Read more about the experience of miscarriage here.

Read more about recurrent pregnancy loss here.

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