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Immune Marker May Offer Miscarriage Clue

Low Levels During Pregnancy May Reveal Miscarriage Risk
By
WebMD Health News

Jan. 8, 2004 -- Low levels of a protein involved in the immune system during early pregnancy may serve as an indicator of miscarriage risk.

A new study shows that women who miscarried had levels of the protein that were only one-third of the levels found among similar women who had successful pregnancies.

Researchers say as many as 10-15% of pregnancies end in miscarriage. Many of these are the result of genetic abnormalities in the fetus, but a large proportion are unexplained and may be related to the maternal immune system rejecting the fetus.

Potential Marker for Miscarriage Risk

In the study, which appears in the Jan. 10 issue of The Lancet, researchers measured the levels of an immune protein known as MIC 1 in women at six to 13 weeks gestation.

Researchers found that the average level of the protein in 100 women who later miscarried were one-third of the average levels found in 200 similarly matched women who went on to have successful pregnancies.

The study also showed that the levels were just as low three weeks before miscarriage as they were on the day the miscarriage was diagnosed.

Researchers say the fact that levels were unusually low weeks before miscarriage occurred suggests that the protein may help predict which women are at risk for miscarriage and allow doctors to develop interventions to prevent pregnancy loss.

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