Why do we need this research?
Miscarriage is common. Around 1 in 5 women will have a miscarriage and approximately 1% of women experience recurrent miscarriage, defined as 3 or more miscarriages in a row. Often, the cause of miscarriage will only be investigated after a woman has suffered three losses. This can be devastating for women and their partners.
Over the last few years, our researchers have been building Tommy’s Net – a data platform that holds pregnancy and outcomes information for women treated at several different hospitals and clinics. By looking at data from nearly 800 women, our researchers found that many of them had risk factors for miscarriage that could, in theory, be changed. For example, a quarter of them were either obese or were smokers, while less than half of them took folic acid before getting pregnant.
Our researchers now want to help women to assess their individual risk of having a miscarriage so that, if necessary, they can make lifestyle changes to improve their chances of having a healthy baby.
What’s happening in this project?
By using the data contained in Tommy’s Net, our researchers want to develop an online risk calculator, taking into account several factors that are linked to miscarriage, such as the number of previous pregnancy losses, height, weight, age, smoking status, alcohol intake and folic acid intake. The calculator will give women an estimate of how likely it is that they will have a live birth and will point them in the direction of lifestyle advice to reduce their chances of having a miscarriage. Women will also be advised about whether there are any tests that they should have before trying to get pregnant, which can then be discussed with their healthcare provider. Importantly, the calculator will also indicate the chances of a live birth if all the advice is followed.
What difference will this project make?
The miscarriage risk calculator should encourage women to make positive changes that will improve their chances of having a live birth. Women will also be empowered to have discussions with their healthcare providers to make sure they are receiving the most appropriate, evidence-based care that will reduce their chances of having a miscarriage.