Miscarriage is the most common pregnancy complication with 1 in 4 women experiencing at least 1 miscarriage during their reproductive lifetime. This also represents a quarter of all pregnancies affected by loss, devastating families.
Tommy’s believes that the current situation can and must change – so in 2016, we opened the UK’s first national centre dedicated to miscarriage research. It is the biggest research centre focused on miscarriage in Europe and a unique partnership between 3 universities:
and 4 hospitals:
- Birmingham Women’s Hospital
- University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire
- Queen Charlotte’s Hospital
- St Mary’s Hospital
Tommy’s National Centre for Miscarriage Research primary research themes
Tommy’s National Centre for Miscarriage Research focuses on 4 key themes based on the questions asked by those who experience miscarriage.
- Why did my miscarriage happen?
- Will it happen again?
- Can we prevent it happening again?
- How can I bear miscarriage emotionally and move forward from here?
Current health guidelines mean that women must have 3 consecutive early miscarriages (called recurrent miscarriage) before there is any investigation. We want to challenge this. The best chance of changing the situation is through research, so we can give women and their partners the answers, care and help that they need.
Tommy’s National Centre for Miscarriage Research clinics
Tommy’s National Centre for Miscarriage Research includes a network of 4 specialist research clinics. At our recurrent miscarriage clinics, women are given the opportunity to take part in research trials, accessing cutting-edge treatments and tests.
The clinics are held at the be at the following sites:
- Birmingham Women's Hospital
- University Hospital Coventry
- Queen Charlotte's & Chelsea Hospital and St Mary's Hospital, London
“It was such a relief to find someone who actually wanted to help. We felt so disappointed and dismissed by the miscarriage care we had received up until then. I felt hopeful for the first time.”
Danielle from Peterborough had 3 miscarriages before being referred to Tommy’s National Centre for Miscarriage Research clinic in Birmingham.
Research Highlights 2019
The PRISM study
Read more about the PRISM trial
The ground-breaking PRISM trial and research studies demonstrated that giving progesterone to women with early pregnancy bleeding and a history of miscarriage can prevent up to 8,540 miscarriages a year in the UK.
PRISM studied 4,153 women with early pregnancy bleeding at 48 hospitals in the UK and found there was a 5% increase in the number of babies born to those who were given progesterone who had previously had 1 or more miscarriages compared to those given a placebo.
The benefit was even greater for the women who had previous recurrent miscarriages– with a 15% increase in the live birth rate in the progesterone group compared to the placebo group.
The team at the Tommy’s National Centre for Miscarriage Research are now urging policy makers to consider the evidence and update national guidelines.Hide details
Read more about the SIMPLANT trial
New evidence from previous research at the University of Warwick showed that women who experience recurrent miscarriage have low levels of stem cells in the lining of their womb. The SIMPLANT trial investigated ways to improve this stem cell count.
In a pilot clinical trial, 38 women aged 18 to 42 who had experienced a high number of recurrent miscarriages were given either a course of sitagliptin or a placebo for 3 menstrual cycles. Biopsies of the womb were taken at the start of the course of treatment and afterwards to determine the number of stem cells present before and after the course.
Our researchers found, on average, a 60% increase in stem cell count in those women who took the full course of sitagliptin. This compares to no significant increase in those in the control group receiving an identical placebo pill. They also saw a 50% decrease in the number of ‘stressed’ cells present in the lining of the womb. There were minimal side effects for the participants.
The team now hope to take the treatment to clinical trial and, if successful, it would be the first targeted specifically at the lining of the womb to prevent miscarriage.
“There are currently very few effective treatments for miscarriage, and this is the first that aims at normalising the womb before pregnancy. Although miscarriages can be caused by genetic errors in the embryo, an abnormal womb lining causes the loss of chromosomal normal pregnancies. We hope that this new treatment will prevent such losses and reduce both the physical and psychological burden of recurrent miscarriage.”
Professor Jan Brosens, of Warwick Medical School and Consultant in Reproductive Health at University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust
Current research projects
Find a miscarriage research project
Premature birth is the biggest killer of newborn babies in the UK and much of Tommy's research is devoted to predicting and preventing this. One discovery has made a huge difference to our ability to treat women in time.
In more than half of stillbirths parents are not given a reason for their babies' death. Doctors simply do not know why it happens. This animation looks at how Tommy's researchers are finding out the causes of stillbirth and how this leads to treatments and saved lives.
Too many miscarriages are unexplained. Our research is entirely dedicated to finding out why miscarriages happen and how to prevent it in the future.
Natalie and Sean from Warwickshire were delighted when the found out that they were expecting twins. At 25 weeks pregnant, Natalie went into premature labour. Their daughters, Daisy and Georgie, passed away soon after birth. Natalie went on to have 2 heart-breaking miscarriages before getting support from Tommy’s National Centre for Miscarriage Research. Their rainbow baby Livvie was born in 2019.
Claire, from Leamington Spa experienced recurrent miscarriage before her daughter Mollie was born. In 2017, Claire had another miscarriage and decided to take part in the SIMPLANT trial at Tommy’s National Centre for Miscarriage Research. Mollie’s little brother, Dexter, was born in July 2018.
Leanne and Kieran experienced a heart-breaking missed miscarriage before the arrival of their first daughter, Rosa. Sadly, they went on to experience another miscarriage before getting referred to Tommy’s National Centre for Miscarriage Research at Birmingham Women’s Hospital. During Leanne’s next pregnancy, she was supported by the team at our recurrent miscarriage clinic. Their second healthy baby, Pearl, was born in October 2019.
Beth and Sean from Lancaster have experienced 9 losses in total. After her first living baby was born in 2017, Beth was diagnosed with Chronic Histiocytic Intervillositis (CHI), a rare condition that causes placental failure. With support from Professor Alex Heazell at Tommy’s Rainbow Clinic, Beth’s second living baby was born prematurely at 35 weeks in March 2020, during the height of the pandemic.