The British Fertility Society held its annual conference last week and our team was in attendance. One of the major headlines to report from the conference is the news that it may now be possible to identify if you’re at a higher risk of miscarriage in pregnancy.
The risk of miscarriage is generally at its highest during the first 12 weeks, known as the first trimester. This is when the embryo goes through major growth to officially become a healthy foetus. But this is when miscarriage is most common, and although there’s different underlying causes, one of the main reasons is because the embryo hasn’t developed or grown properly, so the pregnancy stops.
But now a team of scientists from Nottingham have tracked with accurate measurements both singleton and twin IVF pregnancies up to birth, to reveal that growth restriction in the first trimester – where the embryo measures significantly small for its dates – can be a potential sign of miscarriage, but only in singleton pregnancies.
In the study, 77 per cent of the singleton pregnancies which ended in miscarriage were growth restricted. However, in twin pregnancies, only just over 28 per cent of those which miscarried were growth restricted.
It’s worth noting that IVF pregnancies were studied in this research simply because they enabled the team to pinpoint exactly the date of conception and so accurately measure and date the embryos. Such detailed dating isn’t possible in natural pregnancies, as the exact date of conception isn’t known, instead using the woman’s last menstrual period to provide an estimated timescale.
What these results show is that through accurate measurement of growth during the crucial early weeks, it may be possible to identify which pregnancies are at a higher risk of miscarriage. There now needs to be more studies done to see if miscarriage can actually be predicted using growth measurements, and why growth seems to have such a major impact on miscarriage risk.