Is The Answer To A Miscarriage An Egg?
If you are having problems getting and staying pregnant whether by conceiving naturally or through IVF, your body may have an overactive immune system that sees the baby in your womb as a foreign intruder. It then sends 'killer cells' to attack your embryo, triggering a miscarriage. If you have had several early miscarriages, your doctor may suspect that you have this problem.
Where doctors suspect that a woman has an overactive immune system they can perform a particular type of immunology test, called a Chicago Test, which will find any problems in this area. Unfortunately, up to now there has been little effective treatment available but there are currently several promising treatments under trail in the UK.
The Egg Solution
One very simple cure, an infusion of intralipids, has helped several women get pregnant by lowering their overactive immune systems. This intralipids infusion, which is a mixture of egg yolks and soya bean oil, has been shown to lower your immune response and the private Care fertility clinics group has pioneered this research. The group offers a Reproductive Immunology Programme to help these women and has a number of clinics in the Midlands and the North. According to the Nottingham Care Clinic's Director, Dr Ndukwe, one of the doctors behind this innovative treatment, up to one in four women with fertility problems may have these overactive 'killer cells'. This particular treatment is relatively simple, and inexpensive, around £200, which compares very favourably with some of the other available treatments for this condition.
The Drug Approach
Humira, an expensive anti-arthritis drug, (£3,500) also seems to be effective in boosting pregnancy rates in some women. Another solution, used by Professor Siobhan Quenby of Warwick University, is a steroid normally used to treat people suffering with asthma or eczema. This relatively cheap drug, Prednisolone, is being tried in a pilot study to see if it reduces a woman's overactive immune response. Professor Quenby is conducting her research through the NHS so if you live in the Midlands and suffer from repetitive miscarriages it is well worth asking your GP to refer you to her.
A different option involves using intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIg), which is protein extracted from the blood of some 30 donors. This is also quite expensive at £1,500 a time. All of these treatments have resulted in some successful pregnancies, but remember not every treatment works for everybody, and they may not all be available in your area or on the NHS.
Immune System Suppression Risks
What all these treatments have in common is that they involve suppressing the body's immune system both prior to conception and during the first trimester of pregnancy whether you are trying to conceive naturally or through IVF. The exact number of treatments and their timing depends on which of the various approaches you are using.
During the rest of the pregnancy, your immune system response needs to be regularly monitored to make sure that it stays under a certain level. While this reduction of your immune response can help you stay pregnant, it makes you and your foetus very vulnerable to infection. If you decide to try and get pregnant through one of these methods you will have to avoid any situation where you could pick up any type of infection, even a cold. Nevertheless all the inconvenience will be well worth it when you hold your longed for baby in your arms.
If you have had several early miscarriages, ask your GP to refer you to a Reproductive Immunology specialist.
Check out the rest of our website for more fertility research.