Thousands of miscarriages will now be avoided every year after the NHS approved a hormone drug for women at risk of losing their baby.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) estimates 7,200 women will benefit but charity Tommy’s put the number of babies lives saved annually at 8,450.
Miscarriages will be prevented by offering progesterone pills to mums who have experienced a previous miscarriage and for whom scans reveal bleeding.
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.
Jane Brewin, Tommy’s chief executive, says the new measures will 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 wasn’t familiar with it.”
Nice’s independent guidelines committee said the hormone should not be offered to women with early pregnancy bleeding but no previous miscarriage, nor in women with previous miscarriage but no early pregnancy bleeding.
Nice’s independent guidelines committee said the hormone should not be offered to women with early pregnancy bleeding but no previous miscarriage
It has called for more research in these two sets of circumstances before offering the drugs more widely.
It said 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.
Prof Arri Coomarasamy, director of Tommy’s National Centre for Miscarriage Research at the University of Birmingham, said: “Progesterone is a robust and effective treatment option, which could prevent 8,450 miscarriages a year in the UK – but we know it’s not yet reaching everyone who might benefit.
“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.”
If a foetal heartbeat is confirmed, it is recommended treatment with progesterone should continue until 16 weeks of pregnancy have been completed, Nice said.