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A recent study is helping researchers determine the cause for many previously unexplained pregnancy losses. In the past, a miscarriage or stillbirth was often a mystery, in that the woman’s doctors didn’t have a specific explanation for what went wrong. Now, though, learning more about the placenta has uncovered pathological issues with it in over 90 percent of the cases the researchers studied.
Losing a pregnancy is tragic, and can be extremely emotional and painful. Not knowing what caused the loss can make that feeling even worse, especially for women who may feel they did something wrong that caused it. Some placental issues are known to cause miscarriages and stillbirths, including umbilical cord dysfunction, early placental separation, and infection. The new research may help medical professionals look for additional concerns, to discover the source of the loss.
The goal, of course, is to use that information to find ways of preventing pregnancy loss. Additionally, a secondary goal is finding out how to diagnose abnormalities that may cause placental issues. That could help women and their partners make better-informed decisions about whether to try for a child or continue a pregnancy that is deemed high risk.
The study’s findings showed identifiable pathology that would solve the mystery for nearly 85 percent of miscarriages and approximately 99 percent of stillbirths. While it wouldn’t be possible to definitively say what caused the loss in every single case, this new information would help the vast majority of women who lose a pregnancy understand the cause.
For women who are pregnant and diagnosed with a placental issue, being flagged as high-risk and taking steps to reduce the chance of loss can increase peace of mind and help them have a better chance at a healthy, full-term baby. More research is still needed, and additional testing will have to be developed to look at the placenta more closely. As a temporary organ it doesn’t currently have the same kind of testing and diagnostic options as other organs. But this is an important first step toward reduced, and more easily explained, pregnancy loss.
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