Why do we need this research?
When miscarriage happens, too often parents are never given a reason why. This needs to change.
There is more and more research exploring how the microorganisms that live on, and in our bodies, can affect pregnancy. We want to find out if bacteria in the womb and vagina play a part in miscarriage.
What’s happening in this project?
There are millions and millions of bacteria living on and in our bodies. Usually, these don’t cause any harm – in fact, many are beneficial, like some of the bacteria that live in our guts.
The different types of bacteria that live in a woman’s vagina, womb and gut naturally change during pregnancy. Our scientists think that these bacteria might be able to shed light on why some miscarriages happen.
To find out how different types of bacteria can affect pregnancy, researchers funded by Tommy’s have recruited over 200 women to their study. These include women attending our general gynaecology clinic, as well as those experiencing bleeding, pain, or miscarriage. The women in the study donate samples of their placenta and the lining of the womb, as well as swabs from the vagina to collect the bacteria living there.
Our scientists have studied more than 560 vaginal swabs from the participants. So far, the team have found, for the first time, that lower amounts of a type of bacteria called Lactobacillus are connected to increased inflammation in the vagina. In turn, this inflammation may increase the risk of miscarriage.
What difference will this project make?
By looking at how the bacteria in the vagina might affect pregnancy, our researchers hope their work will help us give more women answers to the question of why they have had a miscarriage.
Thanks for your interest in our research
Tommy's funds research across the UK investigating the reasons for miscarriage, stillbirth and premature birth. We can keep you updated on ways you can support our work. If you would like to join our fight against baby loss and premature birth, click here.
More research projects
New research has revealed the benefits of giving progesterone to women with early pregnancy bleeding and a history of miscarriage.
Tommy’s spent yesterday morning at the charming Foundling Museum in London, celebrating the work of Tommy’s National Centre for Maternity Improvement alongside the opening of the museum’s new exhibition, ‘Portraying Pregnancy’.
Miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy may trigger long-term post-traumatic stress, anxiety and depression
The largest ever study into the psychological impact of miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy has shown that early-stage pregnancy loss can have a serious impact on mental health. The research was led by Professor Tom Bourne at the Tommy’s National Centre for Miscarriage Research at Imperial College London.
A pilot trial led by Tommy’s National Centre for Miscarriage Research suggests diabetes drug could be repurposed to target the lining of the womb in women with recurrent miscarriage.