The Tommy’s fourth research centre will focus on early miscarriage

We recently launched the campaign to open our fourth research centre, which will be dedicated to research into early miscarriage.

By Jane Brewin, Tommy's CEO

We recently launched the campaign to open our fourth research centre, which will be dedicated to research into early miscarriage.

So why is it important?

If you have had a miscarriage, you may have heard one or more of the following common phrases:

  • ‘It’s one of those things’
  • ‘It’s nature’s way’
  • ‘You’ve just been unlucky’

Would this be an acceptable thing to say to someone who has cancer, or Alzheimer’s or motor neurone disease? I think not – so why do we say these things in pregnancy?

250,000 babies a year are lost

250,000 babies a year are lost to early miscarriage – that’s the combined populations of Oxford and Cambridge.

At the moment you need to have three miscarriages before the NHS will refer you for investigation – because it takes three miscarriages before it becomes terribly clear that you are not ‘just unlucky’.

It is a common misconception that an early miscarriage is like having a normal monthly period. It is not. Miscarriage is very painful, draining and traumatic.

Can you imagine how terrible that is for mums and dads? Their only option is to endure pregnancy loss after loss if they want to have a baby.

Half of miscarriages have an underlying cause

One of our theories is that only around half of the 250,000 miscarriages are a result of chromosome abnormalities (in which the pregnancy is not viable). The rest have an underlying cause.

Our task is to redefine miscarriage and separate it from chromosome abnormalities so that we can identify women who are at risk and treat those who have underlying causes before they have to lose three babies.

We can redefine miscarriage

This sounds like a big challenge but our track record in achieving ‘impossible’ goals is impressive…

Seven years ago, for example, Tommy’s decided to focus our Manchester research centre on stillbirth despite the prevailing view that nothing could be done/it wasn’t important. Seven years later:

  • in the population served by our Manchester clinics, stillbirth has reduced by nearly 20 percent between 2010–2013
  • stillbirth is starting to decline around the UK
  • reduction of stillbirth is a government target

Tommy’s is still funding the only stillbirth centre in the UK and we are doing amazing things to improve antenatal care and save babies lives.

So Tommy’s can help to make a real difference to saving babies lives…

Why our research is needed