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New Method Predicts Risk of Miscarriage

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pregnant belly with doctorAbout 20% of pregnancies threaten to miscarry, and of those, 1 in 5 actually end in miscarriage. British researchers have found a way to accurately predict which women are at greatest risk of miscarriage so that preventative measures can be taken as early as possible.

In a study presented this week at a European fertility conference, Doctor Kaltum Adam explained the Pregnancy Viability Index (PVI) that her team has developed based on their research. "This research has, for the first time, offered us a robust tool to begin to attempt to rescue pregnancies threatening to miscarry when currently all we can do is fold our hands and hope for the best," said Dr. Adam

The team followed 112 women who were at known risk of miscarriage and measured several factors that are thought to increase that risk. They found that by combining two of those factors -- amount of bleeding and low levels of hCG (a pregnancy hormone) -- they could predict with great accuracy who would miscarry. Dr. Adams and her team were able to correctly predict a positive outcome in 94% of cases, and they correctly predicted miscarriage in 77% of cases.

The PVI has the potential to be of great use to doctors and their pregnant patients, as it allows doctors to know with confidence when a woman is at risk of miscarriage and to take swift preventative measures. It can also reduce the number of unnecessary and potentially harmful procedures, including progesterone supplementation and hospitalized bed rest, in women who are not at risk for miscarriage.

The factors measured for the PVI are routinely monitored during pregnancy anyway, so no extra procedure is necessary to determine the risk of miscarriage. "We are hopeful that by identifying factors that impact significantly on pregnancy outcome we will be able to gain a better understanding of the process of threatened miscarriage. This, in turn, may enable us to design more effective interventions to rescue these pregnancies," said Dr. Adam.

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