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The World in Medicine
February 18, 2004

Miscarriage Clue?

JAMA. 2004;291(7):813. doi:10.1001/jama.291.7.813-c

Low concentrations of an immune system protein during early pregnancy might predict the likelihood of a pregnancy ending in miscarriage, according to research by Australian scientists (Lancet. 2004;363;129-130).

An estimated 10% to 15% of all known pregnancies end in miscarriage. Some have detectable chromosomal abnormalities, but in many cases, the cause is unknown and clinicians are unable to predict which pregnancies are at risk.

In a new study of 100 women who had miscarriages and 200 with normal pregnancies, researchers measured levels of macrophage inhibitory cytokine 1 (MIC-1), one of a number of immune system proteins thought to be important in maintaining a healthy pregnancy, in blood samples obtained at 6 to 13 weeks' gestation. They found that MIC-1 levels of women who miscarried were nearly 70% lower than those of controls as early as 3 weeks or more before the miscarriage occurred.