Why do we need this research?
As many as one in four women will experience a miscarriage in their lifetime. 1% of women will suffer three or more miscarriages. We still don’t know enough about miscarriage to be able to give women the reason why it happened to them, or to predict the chances of it happening again in the future.
We need better tests to accurately predict the likelihood that a woman will have a miscarriage, whether they’ve had one in the past or not.
What’s happening in this project?
To understand miscarriage better and find ways to predict it, Tommy’s are supporting The Early Pregnancy Observational Study (EPOS). This study is following more than 1,100 women from five weeks of pregnancy through to birth.
Our researchers take samples of blood, urine, and swabs from the vagina to look for substances or bacteria that could help us understand why miscarriage happens. The team also carry out an ultrasound scan of the baby, and collect information about the women’s clinical history. Women will have follow-up visits every two weeks in the first trimester, and one check-up in the second and third trimesters.
Early results have shown that there are significant differences in the amount of two substances in the blood of women who miscarry, compared to women who have a normal pregnancy.
The research team have also revealed how in women who have been pregnant more than once, the bacteria present in her vagina changes. Tommy’s researchers are studying how the bacteria present in the vagina might influence the chances of miscarriage, so knowing how bacteria naturally changes between pregnancies is vital information.
EPOS is also connected to other trials supported by Tommy’s:
- The PRECISE study – How to spot heart problems earlier in pregnancy
- The ABPEP study – Finding ectopic pregnancies early in pregnancy
What difference will this project make?
Our researchers believe that the results from EPOS will help us to understand why miscarriage happens, to detect problems earlier in pregnancy, and to work towards treatments to prevent 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
A BBC News investigation has found that some private baby scanning studios are misleading customers by advertising “reassurance” scans that do not diagnose serious conditions and abnormalities.
In this Q&A, we sit down and chat with with Tom Willmott, a researcher based at Tommy’s Maternal and Fetal Health Research Centre in Manchester. He gives a rare insight into a novel and exciting area of pregnancy health research, known as ‘maternal microbiology’, looking at what we can learn by studying bacteria in the mouths of mums-to-be.
A recently published article, co-authored by Professor Catherine Williamson from Tommy’s Research Centre at King’s College London, suggests that certain pregnancy complications can indicate future health issues for women.
Tommy’s has received a grant from the UK Government’s Department for Health and Social Care to support the costs of its PregnancyHub information and support services throughout the summer, due to rising demand in the wake of coronavirus.