A new review of recent studies has found that immune-boosting therapies do not reduce the risk of miscarriage in pregnant women. The cause for miscarriage is not yet clear, but reserachers believe it happens due to attack by foreign cells on the fetus.
To prevent this from happening, doctors usually try to increase the immunity of pregnant women. T. Flint Porter, M.D., of the LDS Hospital in Salt Lake City and colleagues reviewed some recent cases and found that this does not prevent miscarriage in women who have miscarried previously. "Women should be spared the pain and grief associated with false expectations that an ineffective treatment might work," Potter said. This review is published in The Cochrane Library, a publication of The Cochrane Collaboration, an international organization that evaluates medical research. Among the studies that were reviewed, 15 studies including 797 women were given received transfusions of white blood cells from either their partners or a third person. In another eight studies involving 303 women, the women received intravenous immune globulin antibodies, while the last one had 37 women who were treated with embryonic tissue called the trophoblast membrane. No difference was found in the instances of live birth births after 28 weeks of pregnancy between women treated with immune-boosting therapies and women who received no treatment. Further studies are needed to determine the exact cause of this and "a reliable method to determine which women might benefit from manipulation of the maternal immune system is urgently needed," Porter said.