Miscarriages May Be Caused By Autoimmune Disease

Robyn Nazar RN BSN's picture
Miscarriage
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Autoimmune disease in a woman may be the cause of miscarriage according to new research. Study authors are encouraging doctors to test women who experience recurrent pregnancy losses for autoimmune diseases as a way to better prevent miscarriages.

Miscarriages are not uncommon and are believed to occur with as many as 1 out of every 4 pregnancies. Often the woman will miscarry very early in pregnancy, sometimes even before she knows that she has conceived. Although many women experience one or two losses, most are able to conceive child that is carried in a healthy pregnancy to term.

However, in cases of recurrent pregnancy losses women continue to miscarry over and over again with each pregnancy. In more than 60 percent of these cases genetic abnormalities of the embryo is identified as the cause. However, doctors and fertility experts have struggled find an effective way to prevent these types of abnormalities and subsequent miscarriage.

It has been accepted by the infertility community that autoimmune disease has a role in this occurrence, but until now experts in the infertility field have not been able to identify exactly how it contributes to recurrent pregnancy losses.

The study, conducted by researchers at the Center for Human Reproduction, reviewed available published literature on autoimmune disease and is relationship to infertility. What they discovered was that the autoimmune disease in itself can cause genetic abnormalities of the embryo. These abnormalities are then what lead to miscarriage. So, if the disease is left untreated, the woman would continue to have recurrent pregnancy losses.

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“Indeed, it is precisely when a chromosomal problem is detected in embryos that we need to look into maternal autoimmunity,” says Dr. David Barad, a study author and Clinical Director of ART at the Center for Human Reproduction. “Especially when a woman experiences repeated miscarriages, her autoimmunity needs to be investigated as a cause.”

Up until now, common practice has been that when chromosomal abnormalities of the embryo are identified as the cause of a miscarriage no further investigation is conducted. The study authors warn that this practice could cause the real reason for the miscarriage to be missed.

"Identifying the root cause is the crucial starting point in miscarriage prevention," said Dr. Norbert Gleicher, the study's lead author and Medical Director of the Center for Human Reproduction. "If we know that autoimmunity is causing a woman to miscarry, there are preventive measures we can take."

Autoimmune diseases are a group of chronic illnesses which are characterized by the body's immune system attacking its own organs. Common examples of these diseases include Chron's disease, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and ulcerative colitis. More than 75 percent of cases occur in women.

Currently there is no standard treatment for autoimmune related infertility. However, aggressive treatment of disease symptoms and suppression of the autoimmune responsive have been shown to be he most successful in preserving pregnancies in women with these disease.

This study was just released in the medical journal Autoimmunity Reviews.

Updated 8/5/2015

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Comments

I am 53 years old and have had at least 11 miscarriages in my life time. The one thing that I have been able to figure out is when I miscarried and conceived the very next month my body would not reject the fetus. I understand that my body would reject the first fetus and except the second fetus. I now suffer from autoimmune issues since I am older. I was lucky to have been married to an OB/GYN 26 years ago, because I never would have had children. I have 3 children now.
I am 28 years old and have had 2 missed miscarriages. I am currently six weeks pregnant and this pregnancy has the same signs and symptoms. I am almost certain that I will lose this one too. Low hcg hormone, absence of fetal heart beat etc are all characteristics. Elizabeth, it would be of great help if you could please clarify if all your successful pregnancies were conceived the month after your miscarriage.
Hello Elizabeth, I'm now going through my 8th miscarriage with no live births & looking for any answers, my husband & I have had all testing & it all comes back 'unexplained', but this hasn't really helped us. I'm now 38 and started this journey at 34yrs old after diagnosis with endometriosis. I've never had any problem conceiving, just carrying. I was wondering whether you had to take any medication for pregnancy or like you said, was it just getting pregnant straight after the miscarriage that made the difference for you? Hoping you will respond, I can't take much more, but in sure you know how devastating miscarriage is. Kind regards Gemma
I was just diagnosed today with an autoimmune disorder. However I too have a history of recurrent miscarriage. I've lost 8 pregnancies in a row. I've been pregnant 13 times now. I have five children but the last two were the twins I conceived after the 8 consecutive miscarriages. I ha all of he tests possible run at the time (12 years ago) and nothing turned up. Nothing! The fertility specialist opted to put me on heparin injections twice daily and aspirin therapy. After that I successfully carried twins to term! It can happen so don't give up. It is disheartening to lose so many precious angels but there is hope. I hope this helps.
Thanks for your response Mchelle. I've had both clexane and aspirin for at least 5 of my pregnancies and it hasn't made any difference. Can I ask you what dosage of each your Dr has you on? And so you start at ovulation or when your pregnancy test is positive? What test found your autoimmune issue? Can I ask how old you were when you started to experience MCs? Thanks. We are trying to hold hope but I'm almost 39 now and time is running out. We are going to try IVF with genetic testing in Feb/Mar next year, but I've just had a Lap and also been diagnosed with Stage 4 endo(removed) and adenomyosis and Asherman's syndrome(which they say they fixed in this op), so I seem to have other issues too. Hopefully we'll get there
Please help me on this i also having the same conditions. I had this happen to me 4 times... First time: Single Fetal Node of 7 week growth with no cardiac activity is seen in the sac. Second time: Single Fetal Node of 6 weeks 4 days growth with no cardiac activity is seen in the sac. Third time: no fetal pole was found till 7w. Fourth time: Single Fetal Node of 6 week growth with no cardiac activity is seen in the sac and choriodecidual reaction is poor. In all case Baby stopped growing at 6 week.. and in u/s we never had a heartbeat. All Possible test are done and in test we do not found any issue