A friend of mine struggled through several miscarriages before eventually giving birth to a healthy baby girl about five years ago. After the second time, she and her husband felt that they would never be able to successfully carry a baby to full term and weren’t sure how many more times they could try before they were too heartbroken to attempt another go at pregnancy. Thankfully their story ends happily, but many other women who experience miscarriage never get the chance to give birth to a live infant.

There are many reasons why some women are more prone to miscarriage and they usually have to do with some health issues or disorders. However, some women just are more likely to lose their children and researchers have been baffled as to why. Recently though, studies have been focusing on a group of cells called natural killer cells and their role in causing women to miscarry.

Even more recently, researchers from the University of Warwick have discovered some crucial information related to natural killer (NK) cells that may help women who suffer from recurring miscarriages.

Until now, it was unclear how NK cells actually affected a woman’s ability to carry a child to full term. It was only known that women with a high number of these cells were more likely to miscarry repeatedly. Professor Jan Brosens of Warwick Medical School led the newest research team and found that elevated uterine NK cells in the lining of the womb indicate deficient production of steroids. This is a problem because a decrease in these natural steroids also causes a decrease of fats and vitamins that are essential for pregnancy nutrition. Without these fats and vitamins, a woman’s chances of carrying an infant to full term are slim at best.

Siobhan Quenby, Professor of Obstetrics at Warwick Medical School, explained, "This work is really exciting because after years of controversy and doubt we have a crucial breakthrough. This means, quite simply, that we have excellent scientific justification for steroid based treatment to prevent miscarriage."

No treatments have been formed yet, but the study finally revealed exactly how NK cells are related to miscarriage and the study has also unveiled a potential cure for women struggling with reoccurring miscarriage. The study, however, was centered on women who had multiple miscarriages for no discernible reason other than high levels of NK cells. This means that women who have gone through one or more miscarriages because of other medical issues may not be candidates to receive the steroid treatment.

Source: University of Warwick (2013, September 11). New hope for women suffering from recurrent miscarriage. ScienceDaily.