Taking progesterone could prevent ‘thousands’ of miscarriages, charity says

Some women can be offered the hormone drug, which a charity says will ‘help save babies’ lives and spare parents heartache’

Kate Ng
Wednesday 24 November 2021 09:30
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Women who may be at higher risk of miscarriage will be offered a hormone drug to help prevent pregnancy loss.

Some women who have experienced bleeding in early pregnancy and previously had a miscarriage can be offered 400mg of micronized progesterone to be taken twice daily.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) issued the update to its guidance, which it estimates will help around 1,200 women each year.

However, pregnancy charity Tommy’s believes the move could prevent as many as 8,450 miscarriages a year and will “help save babies’ lives and spare parents heartache”.

Research published by the charity’s National Centre for Miscarriage Research in January 2020 found that prescribing progesterone to some women was a cost-effective way of increasing women’s chances of having a baby.

NICE’s independent guidelines committee said the hormone should not be offered to women who have experienced one symptom but not the other.

For example, it is not recommended for women who have early pregnancy bleeding but no previous miscarriage, and vice versa.

However, the committee called for more research in these two areas, citing that there is no evidence of harm to the mother or baby from the use of progesterone, although the evidence is insufficient to rule out the possibility of rare events.

Around one in five women experience bleeding in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, and are advised to have it checked by their GP or midwife.

Jane Brewin, Tommy’s chief executive, said: “It’s great to see NICE taking our progesterone research on board in their new miscarriage care guidelines, which will help save babies’ lives and spare parents heartache.

“Miscarriage is often dismissed as ‘one of those things’ we can’t do anything about – even by some healthcare professionals, who may not specialise in this area to know the latest evidence.

“We hear from women who were denied progesterone treatment when they should have been eligible, simply because their doctor isn’t familiar with it, so we hope NICE’s recommendation will help end some of these inequalities in miscarriage care that add more pain to an already unbearable experience.”

Professor Arri Coomarasamy, director of Tommy’s miscarriage research centre, added that the update was a “very welcome change”.

“Our research has shown that progesterone is a robust and effective treatment option but we know it’s not yet reaching everyone who might benefit,” he said.

“This new recommendation from NICE is an important step in tackling the current variation in miscarriage services across the country and preventing these losses wherever possible.”

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