New treatment to reduce the risk of miscarriage in at-risk women

Australian women at increased risk of miscarriage now have access to hormone therapy that reduces the risk of losing a pregnancy

The Therapeutic Goods Administration has just registered the progesterone therapy Utrogestan, which can be used to prevent first-trimester miscarriage in women who bleed during pregnancy and in women who have already had three or more miscarriages.

Sydney University Clinical Lecturer and Manly Beach Babies Obstetrician and Gynecologist Dr. Andrew Pickering said that while bleeding wasn’t always a problem during pregnancy, unexplained bleeding early in pregnancy indicated an increased risk of early miscarriage.

Treatment increases the mother’s risk of carrying the baby to term. (Getty)

He said about a third of patients who had unexplained early bleeding during their pregnancy had a miscarriage.

dr. Pickering said there was an increased risk of miscarriage in patients who had previously lost a pregnancy.

“Once a woman has had two or three pregnancy losses, her risk of future miscarriage more than doubles,” he said.

dr. Pickering said women at risk of miscarriage can now do more than just hope for a positive outcome.

He said progesterone helped prepare the uterine lining and help the body support a growing fetus.

“There is some evidence that it will improve[women’s]chances of having a baby,” he said.

A new screening tool for pregnancy-related anxiety is currently under development (iStock)

Research has shown that taking progesterone significantly increases the chance of a live birth for women with early pregnancy bleeding who have had three or more miscarriages, according to a 2019 study in the New England Journal of Medicine.

It found that 72 percent of women at high risk of miscarriage and early pregnancy bleeding and taking progesterone carried their babies full-time.

Meanwhile, only 57 percent of women at high risk of miscarriage and early pregnancy bleeding and who were not taking progesterone completed their pregnancies.

Treatment with Utrogestan should start at the first sign of bleeding during the first trimester and continue until the end of the 16th week of pregnancy.

The treatment is available by prescription and should be taken daily, for about $9 per day.

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