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The importance of miscarriage research

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A very emotional subject for women was discussed at a conference last week. It’s about miscarriage. It has been observed that the research on psychological and emotional support for women and their partners affected by miscarriage is in the need of an improvement, according to a survey published in BMJ Open and presented at the Association of Early Pregnancy Unit’s (AEPU) annual conference.

Subsequently, research must focus on preventative treatment, relevance of pre-existing medical conditions, lifestyle factors and genetic and chromosomal causes, investigation after different numbers of miscarriage and male causal factors.

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Even though the priorities mentioned above are indeed included in the ongoing studies, psychological support is not well researched, according to the doctors who carried out the survey.

The definition of miscarriage is a pregnancy loss from conception to 24 weeks’ gestation. There is a percentage of 15% of all pregnancies that end this way, but the underlying cause for most of miscarriages is still unexplained, while there are questions about the psychological impacts.

That’s why a team of UK based researchers set out to determine what questions women, their partners and health professionals need answers in future researches.

The study involved 1,093 participants, including 932 women who have experienced miscarriage, 8 partners, 17 family members, friends or colleagues, 104 healthcare professionals and eight charitable organisations, including Miscarriage Association, Tommy’s and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.

2,402 questions were prepared, the top 25 of which were discussed in a face-to-face workshop to identify the top 10 priorities for future research:

  1. What are the effective interventions to prevent miscarriage?
  2. What are the emotional and mental health impacts?
  3. What investigations have clinical value?
  4. To what extent do pre-existing medical conditions cause miscarriage?
  5. What types of emotional support are effective in treating women or their partners after a miscarriage?
  6. Can the woman’s lifestyle cause miscarriage?
  7. To what extent do genetic and chromosomal abnormalities in the foetus cause miscarriage?
  8. What preconception tests or interventions prevent miscarriage?
  9. What are the appropriate investigations for women after a miscarriage?
  10. What male factors contribute towards the cause of miscarriage?

According to the authors of the study, these results should be the focus of future miscarriage research. The psychological and emotional support, are the less well researched areas, even though their importance is massive, since a miscarriage can have a devastating impact on women, their partners and families. They stress that it is time to accelerate their understanding and offer tests that tell parents the cause of their miscarriage and they are determined that this work will be a catalyst for change.

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