Women who are at greater risk of pregnancy loss are to be offered a new treatment that could prevent thousands of miscarriages. The natural pregnancy hormone progesterone could help up to 1,200 pregnant women each year in England and Wales with a prior history of miscarriage and bleeding, according to UK health watchdog NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence).
New guidelines from NICE state that women who experience bleeding and have had at least one miscarriage should be treated with the hormone progesterone. The newly issued guidance is based on a review of research which suggests the treatment could lead to an additional 8,450 births each year in the UK. The trial found that progesterone pla s a role in maintaining pregnancy, and that the more miscarriages a women had, the greater effectiveness the hormone had.
Progesterone helps grow the lining of the womb and a consistent supply of the hormone also helps nurture the developing baby in the womb. Professor Arri Coomarasamy, researcher and Director of Tommy’s National Centre for Miscarriage research at the University of Birmingham, says that it “makes a robust and effective treatment option”. Professor Coomarasamy also says the change will help make the hormone more “accessible” in the UK because at present, “it’s not yet reaching everyone who might benefit”.
Prof Arri Coomarasamy added: “This is a very significant moment […] We have an intervention that works that can stop a miscarriage,” and said that: “This gives hope to thousands of couples throughout UK.”
He also stressed that not all miscarriages can be stopped through the treatment, stating: “But it’s really important to appreciate that only some miscarriages can be prevented by progesterone.” He said that “There are other causes for miscarriages” which still need to be studied and other effective treatments found.
Up until now, progesterone to support pregnancy was not offered as standard by the NHS. The medicine is to be taken as pessaries to be taken twice daily up to 16 weeks of pregnancy. The update is hugely positive news for those who may have been denied progesterone treatment in the past, according to Jane Brown, chief executive of baby loss charity, Tommy’s, who carried out the research informing the change in guidance.
In a statement, Ms Brown told Cosmopolitan UK that the latest evidence is important: “Miscarriage is often dismissed as ‘one of those things’ we can’t do anything about – even by some healthcare professionals, who may not specialise in this area [and will not] know the latest evidence.”
“We hear from women who were denied progesterone treatment when they should have been eligible, simply because their doctor wasn’t familiar with it, so we hope NICE’s recommendation will help end some of these inequalities in miscarriage care that add more pain to an already unbearable experience.”
The charity estimates that 25 per cent of pregnancies end in miscarriage, with women under the age of 30 having a one in 10 chance of miscarrying, although there are no official statistics provided by the NHS.