Are more women losing their babies in late pregnancy?

May 11, 2011 21:15 by PrideAngelAdmin
Sadly, Kelly Brook has lost her baby five months into her pregnancy. The model and actress is not the only celebrity to have suffered the trauma of a late miscarriage in recent months. In February, Britain’s Got Talent judge Amanda Holden, 40, lost a baby two months before she was due to give birth. She had also suffered a miscarriage the previous year. Last November, 25-year-old singer Lily Allen faced the same tragedy six months into her pregnancy. In 2008, she had a miscarriage when she was four months pregnant.

So is the number of miscarriages among British women rising? Or are we simply more aware of the problem because high-profile celebrities have courageously told of their terrible loss? Recent research published in medical journal The Lancet shows Britain has one of the worst records for stillbirth, ranking 33 out of 35 high-income countries. Eleven babies are stillborn every day in Britain.

Losing a baby after 24 weeks of pregnancy - when the baby could survive in an incubator - is classed as a stillbirth. Before that, it is a miscarriage. Every day, 290 British women experience a miscarriage. Professor Lesley Regan, head of the department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology at St Mary’s Hospital, London, says there has been an increase in the number of reported miscarriages.

‘This is partly because the issue of miscarriage has become more visible,’ she says. ‘In my mother’s generation, you didn’t talk about that sort of thing. ‘Also, in the past, women often didn’t know they were pregnant early on because you could take a pregnancy test only in hospital. This means many early miscarriages went unnoticed.’

The advent of home pregnancy tests and a more open society have seen a huge rise in the number of reported miscarriages. However, it is also likely that the actual number of miscarriages has increased. This is largely because of the increase in the number of women having babies later in life.

A woman aged 30 has a 12 per cent risk of miscarriage. But in her early 40s, that rises to 41 per cent. Over the age of 45, it shoots up to 75 per cent. ‘Miscarriage rises with maternal age - and more women are having babies later,’ says Prof Regan. ‘Early miscarriages (before 13 weeks) are often down to chromosomal abnormalities in the embryo. They are more likely to be a one-off.’

Late miscarriages can be caused by blood-clotting disorders, anatomical problems with the uterus and cervix, or infections. ‘These are problems we are more likely to be able to do something about,’ says Prof Regan. ‘Late miscarriage is far, far less common. Only one or two per cent of women suffer a late miscarriage, as has happened to Kelly Brook. After 13 weeks, it really is quite unusual. ‘Early miscarriage is common: a quarter to half of all pregnancies are lost. Sadly, the fate of an embryo is often not a happy one.’

Are lifestyle choices a factor for women who miscarry or are they simply the victims of bad luck? Annette Briley, research midwife at Tommy’s — the baby charity that funds medical research into miscarriage, stillbirth and premature birth — says some preliminary research has linked stress and miscarriage. ‘But for the vast majority, these disasters are a one-off, bad luck situation,’ she says. It is also known that smoking, obesity and immune conditions such as lupus increase a woman’s chances of losing her baby.

So are more women than ever before losing babies? Ms Briley said: ‘There appears to be a trend of a general increase across Europe, despite widespread improvement in health and living conditions. This is a concern, and we do not know quite why it is. ‘Women can be deeply affected by miscarriage — it is a bereavement, and a particularly painful one because other people haven’t met your baby. ‘Fathers often find it a traumatic time, too, but their suffering is less recognised. ‘I feel really sorry for celebrities who have gone through a terrible personal tragedy and have to deal with it in the public eye.’

Women used to be advised to wait three months after a miscarriage before trying for a baby again; now, they are told to wait until they feel physically and emotionally ready for another pregnancy. Are women in Britain more likely to miscarry? According to Ms Briley, it is difficult to compare statistics. ‘We tend to keep good records and so the figures for Britain look high,’ she says. ‘Whether they are higher than in other developed countries, it is difficult to say. Certainly, there’s a need for further research into why so many women lose babies in this day and age.’

Lisa Hooper, 39, from Margate, Kent, went through the trauma of three late miscarriages before she was referred to the Tommy’s clinic in London. Thanks to expert help, she delivered healthy twin girls Hollie and Ella in 2009. She said: ‘My first miscarriage happened at 17½ weeks when I was at work in 2006.'

Britain's Got Talent judge Amanda Holden lost a baby two months before she was due to give birth Her waters had broken and she was told she would miscarry because nothing could be done. ‘I was an emotional and physical wreck. I found it difficult to come to terms with losing my little girl,’ she said. Doctors could find no reason for the miscarriage. The following year, she lost a little boy in the same way. ‘This time I knew something was wrong. Emotionally, I was beside myself, wondering why this kept happening to me.’

In 2008, she became pregnant again. ‘That time I had a lower vaginal stitch put in at 12 weeks. My husband John and I felt reassured by this, but it didn’t stop me miscarrying yet again at 18½ weeks. 'The only difference was that the stitch had to be taken out, which was really frightening. It was just so awful.’ Her doctor contacted Professor Andy Shennan, Professor of Obstetrics at the Tommy’s funded Maternal and Fetal Research Unit at St Thomas’s Hospital. He used a different type of abdominal stitch for her next pregnancy, and Lisa was overjoyed to give birth to twins.

Sometimes, there simply is no clear reason for a miscarriage and seemingly no end to the pain suffered by a woman who has lost her unborn child or children. One woman who suffered a miscarriage at 11 weeks wrote on an online support forum: ‘I was surprised by just how upset I was. I already had two children, but I had set my heart on having a third to complete our family.’ Happily, she has since given birth to a third child - a son.

‘I needed to find a reason why it had happened and spent hours mulling over potential causes,’ she says. ‘Particularly, I tortured myself about a transatlantic flight I had taken the week before the miscarriage. Could it have caused it? ‘In the end, I realised that the bottom line is that some of these things happen for a reason - my baby might have had a disorder that caused my body to miscarry. ‘Or there might have been no particular reason at all. Sometimes, these things just happen.’ Words that will no doubt come as little comfort to Kelly Brook as she struggles to come to terms with the loss of the baby she wanted so much.

Article: 11th May 2011 www.dailymail.co.uk

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Women warned: Don't delay the next try following a miscarriage

August 6, 2010 16:55 by PrideAngelAdmin
pregnancy and miscarriage After the trauma of a miscarriage many women take a break to recover before they begin to try again for a baby.

But they may in fact be increasing their risk of having another pregnancy with complications, research has found. Women who conceive within six months of a miscarriage have the best chance of a healthy pregnancy with the lowest likelihood of another miscarriage, according to the British study. The team from Aberdeen University analysed data for almost 31,000 women who had suffered a miscarriage and fallen pregnant again.

Those who conceived within six months after a miscarriage were 44 per cent less likely to have a second one than those who had an interval of six to 12 months before falling pregnant again.

They were also 52 per cent less likely to have an ectopic pregnancy - where the foetus lodges in a fallopian tube and has to be removed - or a termination.

The study found women who conceived within six months were 10 per cent less likely to need a Caesarean or to have a premature baby, and 16 per cent less likely to have a low birthweight baby.

Women with an interval of more than two years were around twice as likely to have an ectopic second pregnancy or a termination. The study, published online in the British Medical Journal, concludes: 'Women who conceive within six months of an initial miscarriage have the best reproductive outcomes and lowest complication rates in a subsequent pregnancy.'

One in five pregnancies ends in miscarriage - around a quarter of a million in the UK each year - mostly before 12 weeks.

Women aged 40 have a 30 per cent chance of miscarriage, which rises to 50 per cent in those aged 45 or more, according to the study.

The researchers said WHO guidance may not be appropriate to Western countries, where many women delay childrearing until after 35 and women should not be discouraged from trying again.

Short intervals also seemed to increase a woman's chance of conceiving again. Of the women in the study, 41 per cent conceived within six months of a first miscarriage, 25 per cent after six to 12 months and 10 per cent after 12 to 18 months.

The authors said it was unclear why fertility declined with a longer interval. Other researchers have suggested a pregnancy may enhance the functional-capacity of the reproductive system, while women who have recently been pregnant may be leading a healthier lifestyle.

Ruth Bender Atik, director of the Miscarriage Association, said: 'It's a really interesting study. 'I think it's going to be reassuring for women, many of whom want to try again soon after a miscarriage but are worried about doing so.' However, doctors stressed that psychological distress was also an important factor when advising a woman to delay trying again for a baby after a miscarriage.

Mervi Jokinen, of the Royal College of Midwives, said: 'Miscarriage can have an emotional, as well as a physical impact on a woman.

The decision for a woman to plan for a subsequent pregnancy is one that we would encourage her to discuss with her midwife and doctor.'

Article: www.dailymail.co.uk 6th August 2010

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Woman gives birth after four miscarriages by getting a 'Bionic' cervix

August 4, 2010 13:21 by PrideAngelAdmin
pregnancy baby A lawyer who struggled to have a baby for seven years has now given birth to a healthy little girl after being fitted with a 'bionic' cervix. Janett Walker, 41, suffered four miscarriages and lost a premature baby because her cervix was too weak to support an unborn baby.

Doctors 'clamped' the neck of her uterus using a synthetic material called mersilene, to stop a foetus from falling through.

The operation allowed the lawyer to carry her baby Ainka, meaning 'cherished one' to 37 weeks before she gave birth by Caesarean section in June. Janett, who gave birth at Liverpool Women's Hospital, said: 'I just can't believe it. I wake up in the morning sometimes and think my beautiful baby was a dream, but there she is asleep in her cot.

'If I hadn't been fitted with the bionic cervix, I would never have been able to to have a child.

'The operation didn't signify the end of the road for me, I still suffered two miscarriages afterwards, but then it enabled me to have Ainka. She's wonderful.' Janett, who lives with her husband Graham, 42, in Windermere, Cumbria, now wants other women to know that this operation is available.

She said: 'Although the procedure is common in the US, many doctors in the UK aren't aware of it.

'The operation involves cutting the abdomen and lifting up the bladder to reach the cervix.

'The top of the cervix is tied with synthetic material, called mersilene, to stop the foetus from falling through. 'A tiny gap remains, so that the cervix can perform it's other functions too normally.'

Janett met her husband in 1993 in Hong Kong where she had a job as a youth worker while Graham served in the army.

They came back to the UK, married in 1997 and started trying for a family six years later.

Janett was initially unable to conceive and had three rounds of IVF treatment. These were unsuccessful and she was diagnosed with Asherman's Syndrome, a disorder of the womb.

Janett discovered she had a rare condition which meant that her womb was mysteriously scarred. But after an operation to smooth out the scar tissue she was told she should be able to conceive naturally.

In 2006 she became pregnant with a boy she named Jeremiah, but she lost him at 16 weeks. She conceived again in January 2007, but this pregnancy ended at 18 weeks after her cervix collapsed from the weight of the child.

She said: 'It was such a traumatic miscarriage, the kind that keeps going through your mind for months afterwards.' The couple were taken to Lancaster Hospital where doctors finally realised Janett had a problem with her cervix.

They were referred to Liverpool Women's Hospital where doctors told them about a procedure that could help.

If she were to concieve again at 13 weeks pregnant Janet could have a stitch placed in the lower part of her cervix, enabling it to support the womb.

In late 2007 she became pregnant and at 13 weeks had the stitch, or transvaginal cerclage, she hoped would enable her to carry a baby full term.

But at 16 weeks her cervix began to collapse again and she was confined to bed, with her feet up, in the hope that gravity might keep her baby inside.

At 23 weeks the baby, called Imogen Grace, could hang on no longer. She lived on a life support machine for 20 days before the decision was made to turn it off.

It was at this point that Doctor Roy Farquharson at Liverpool Women's Hospital, suggested fitting Janett with a 'bionic' cervix. She underwent the operation successfully in September 2008 but suffered a further two miscarriages, unrelated to her weak cervix, before she finally gave birth to Ainka via caesarean.

She added: 'It takes doctors a matter of minutes to check if women have a weak cervix which may not be capable of supporting a child for nine months.

'All women should be screened before they try for a baby. And they should be made aware of the operation that could save them unnecessary miscarriages.'

Article: 4th August 2010 www.dailmail.co.uk

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