Pregnancy Information

Tommy’s opens the UK’s only National Centre for Miscarriage Research

tommy logoTommy’s, the UK baby charity that funds research into miscarriage, stillbirth and premature birth, opens the country’s first national research centre dedicated to early miscarriage today, Monday, 25th April.

Tommy’s National Centre for Miscarriage Research will comprise a partnership of three universities: The University of Birmingham, The University of Warwick, and Imperial College London, working with their affiliated NHS Trusts.  Birmingham Women’s Hospital, University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust, St Mary’s Hospital in London and Queen Charlotte’s and Chelsea Hospital in London will run specialist miscarriage clinics enabling 24,000 women per year to access treatment and support and participate in Tommy’s research studies.

This national network will seek to understand why miscarriage happens, if it is likely to happen again and how to prevent it. Tommy’s is also investing in research to better support women and their families following a miscarriage.

“Miscarriage is a common but deeply personal and often isolating experience for many couples. Tommy’s #misCOURAGE campaign is beginning to provide clear evidence on the wide-scale devastation it causes. At the Tommy’s National Centre for Miscarriage Research, we are determined to make a difference. The scientists and the clinicians from the three universities and the four trusts constitute a world-class team. We are committed to understand the causes of miscarriage and find ways to prevent it. Tommy’s investment in the new Centre is the best thing that has happened to miscarriage research. It will change many lives.” Professor Arri Coomarasamy, University of Birmingham and Director of Tommy’s National Centre for Miscarriage Research

In the first five years Tommy’s commits to researching:

 –    Genetic causes including a possible connection to damaged DNA in sperm

–    Role of bacteria in miscarriage – new understanding of the role of the oral, gut and vaginal microbiomes in shaping early pregnancy outcomes

–     Predicting the risk of miscarriage by developing sophisticated computerised risk prediction models that pull together clinical data from across the UK

–     Identifying the best ways to support women who have experienced miscarriage

Jane Brewin, CEO of Tommy’s said, “Medical science doesn’t fully understand miscarriage which is why funding and research is so critical. Through pioneering medical research, Tommy’s clinicians will save babies’ lives by turning their discoveries into screening tests and treatments and launch clinics for pregnant women who are most at risk, giving them the latest improvements in care. They’ll share their work in national clinical guidelines, preventing miscarriages and developing better care across the country.”

Miscarriage is by far the biggest cause of pregnancy loss in the UK, and it’s also the least understood by medical science and society which can sometimes refer to it ‘as one of those things’.  Miscarriage causes untold heartbreak. 250,000 mothers and their partners are affected every year with 85 per cent of miscarriages occurring within the first 12 weeks which is known as early miscarriage. Parents often receive no answers when it happens. Currently, the NHS only refers women for investigation after they’ve had three early miscarriages leaving parents to endure the physical and emotional trauma repeatedly before they become eligible for help. Tommy’s aims to halve the number of miscarriages by 2030 by funding medical research to understand the cause and effect of miscarriage.

“I had five miscarriages over three years. Now when I look back, I can’t believe I put myself through the heartache and pain so many times but it was my only way of dealing with the loss – get up, dust down and try again. Although we saw specialists we still don’t really know why they happened. There were ‘possible’ reasons and ‘possible’ solutions that made every pregnancy terrifying.” Kate, Tommy’s supporter

“It is wonderful to be able to offer world class research to patients. The centre will allow us to develop new tests and treatments for miscarriage and develop a greater understanding of the cause of miscarriage. The centre gives new hope to couples suffering pregnancy loss.” Siobhan Quenby, Professor of Obstetrics Division of Reproductive Health, University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire

 “As a doctor, I wish I could give my patients the answers they are looking for. The thing is, we have the expertise, the technology, the drive – we just need the funding. Tommy’s National Centre for Miscarriage Research is the most promising chance yet of making breakthroughs in early miscarriage.”  Professor Phillip Bennett, Director of the Institute for Reproductive and Developmental Biology at Imperial College London

Tommy’s #misCOURAGE campaign continues to grow and resonate with women, attracting a UK and global audience. To date the campaign has reached over 16 million women on Facebook with 7 million of them watching the campaign film; 7,000 taking part in a miscarriage survey and over 1,000 women bravely sharing their personal #misCOURAGE story.  The campaign will now have a permanent legacy as the Tommy’s Book of #misCOURAGE on the Tommy’s website where women can share their story and help break the silence around miscarriage.

The Genesis Research Trust has donated £200,000 over two years towards the Tommy’s National Centre for Miscarriage Research Centre. Chaired by Professor Robert Winston, the Genesis Research Trust has funded the largest collection of UK scientists researching the causes and cures of women’s diseases. These include polycystic ovaries, infertility, stillbirth, miscarriage as well as premature birth, genetic disease, environmental influence before birth, stem-cell research and gynaecological cancers. Their scientists have an unrivalled reputation for making pioneering discoveries and advances which have become standardised medical practice in hospitals around the world, an example being the improvements in antenatal care and IVF. The trust has one of the largest doctoral and post-doctoral programmes in Europe. Uniquely, at least half of GRT’s senior scientists are female, and many go on to take up senior positions in universities all over the world. In recent years GRT scientists have made several major advances in detection and prevention of miscarriage. These include the first successful assessments of an embryo’s chromosomes; the discovery of a simple test which can determine when the womb lining does not develop correctly for pregnancy; and successful testing and treatment for women with ‘sticky blood’ which in some cases has taken live birth rates in women with recurrent miscarriage from 10% to 80%.



About the author

Lisa Newhouse