Recurrent pregnancy loss: what is the impact of consecutive versus non-consecutive losses?

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Abstract

STUDY QUESTION

Is there a different prognostic impact for consecutive and non-consecutive early pregnancy losses in women with secondary recurrent pregnancy loss (RPL)?

SUMMARY ANSWER

Only consecutive early pregnancy losses after the last birth have a statistically significant negative prognostic impact in women with secondary RPL.

WHAT IS KNOWN ALREADY

The risk of a new pregnancy loss increases with the number of previous pregnancy losses in patients with RPL. Second trimester losses seem to exhibit a stronger negative impact than early losses. It is unknown whether the sequence of pregnancy losses plays a role for the prognosis in patients with a prior birth.

STUDY DESIGN, SIZE, DURATION

This retrospective cohort study of pregnancy outcome in patients with unexplained secondary RPL included in three previously published, Danish double-blinded placebo-controlled trials of intravenous immunoglobulin (IvIg) conducted from 1991 to 2014. No other treatments were given. Patients with documented explained pregnancy losses (ectopic pregnancies and aneuploid miscarriages) were excluded.

PARTICIPANTS/MATERIALS, SETTING, METHODS

Of the 168 patients included in the trials, 127 had secondary RPL and experienced a subsequent live birth or unexplained pregnancy loss in the first pregnancy after giving informed consent to participate in the trials (the index pregnancy). Data analyzed by multivariate analysis included the independent variables age, the number of early pregnancy losses before and after the last birth, respectively and a second trimester pregnancy loss before or after the last birth, respectively. The outcome variable was unexplained loss in the index pregnancy.

MAIN RESULTS AND THE ROLE OF CHANCE

In patients with secondary RPL, both a late and each early loss before the last birth did not significantly influence the risk of a new pregnancy loss in the index pregnancy: incidence rate ratio (IRR) 1.31 (95% CI 0.62–2.77) and IRR 0.88 (95% CI 0.70–1.11), respectively. In contrast, the impact on risk of pregnancy loss conferred by a late and by each early pregnancy loss occurring after the birth was significant: IRR 2.15 (95% CI 1.57–2.94, P < 0.0001) and IRR 1.14 (95% CI 1.04–1.24, P = 0.002), respectively.

LIMITATIONS, REASONS FOR CAUTION

Of the patients, 48% were treated with IvIg, which could influence the results. However, allocation to IvIg was random and prognostic variables were equally distributed in IvIg and placebo-treated patients.

WIDER IMPLICATIONS OF THE FINDINGS

A birth in women with secondary RPL eradicates the negative prognostic impact of previous pregnancy losses and this finding is important for our understanding of the pathogenesis. It indicates that only consecutive pregnancy losses should count in the definition of RPL.

STUDY FUNDING/COMPETING INTERESTS

There was no particular funding for this study. The authors declare that there is no conflict of interest.

TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER

Not applicable for two of the included randomized controlled trials. For the last trial: Clinical.Gov NCT00722475.

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