The Early Pregnancy Observational Study (EPOS): following women throughout pregnancy to understand miscarriage

Tom Bourne, Phillip Bennett, David MacIntyre, Maya Al-Memar, Christoph Lees, Harsha Shah and external collaborators

Tommy’s are supporting research involving over 1,100 women to help us understand why miscarriage happens. Within EPOS, two more studies are looking at how to tell early on if there are problems with a baby’s heart that could put it at risk, and the best ways to treat women with ectopic pregnancies.

Start: 2016

End: 2021

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:

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. 

All of these studies are still recruiting - find out about taking part in Tommy's clinical trials


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.

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