Recurrent miscarriage is a prevalent disorder that affects 1-2% of couples. In addition to the physical trauma and psychological stress, miscarriages are also associated with a variety of complications in a subsequent ongoing pregnancy, including preterm delivery, low birth weight and physical handicap. Chromosomal errors in the implanting embryo are a common finding, although more often than not, the pregnancy losses remain unexplained. Consequently, many affected patients receive either no treatment or are treated empirically with a variety of drugs, albeit with little or no evidence of clinical efficacy. Moreover, drug intervention in early pregnancy is highly restricted because of concerns regarding the effects on the developing baby.
About 10% of women will deliver before 37 weeks and about 2% before 32 weeks. The usual term is 40 weeks and preterm babies are at very high risk of death and serious handicap. This used to be thought to be principally because of the complications of the intensive paediatric care that preterm babies need after birth, but in the past decade it has become clear that the processes that cause preterm birth, particularly infection, are also the processes that cause damage to the baby’s brain, lungs, heart and other organs.
I am extremely grateful to Silver Cross who are very generously providing bursaries for vital research to prevent serious complications in pregnancy resulting in premature birth and recurrent miscarriage. This will help us to support that which we hold most dear – the birth of a healthy baby and a happy family.