Can a Blood Test Predict Miscarriage?

Plus, another important question you should ask your doctor

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New research suggests that a simple blood test may reveal a woman's risk of miscarriage—an important first step in prevention.

For the study, researchers obtained blood tests from 993 healthy women who were an average of 11 weeks pregnant. Then they measured each woman's levels of hCG (a hormone commonly used to diagnose possible miscarriage and complications) and kisspeptin, peptides found throughout the body and in the placenta during pregnancy.

Believed to be vital to placental development, kisspeptin levels increase several thousand-fold during healthy pregnancies. And as it turns out, kisspeptin may also be vital to preventing miscarriage: In women who miscarried, blood kisspeptin levels were 60 percent lower than the levels in women who had healthy pregnancies. While hCG levels were also lower (by 36 percent), kisspeptin levels proved to be a more accurate predictor of miscarriage. The research was presented at the joint meeting of the International Society of Endocrinology and the Endocrine Society.

Unfortunately, you won't be able to ask your OB-GYN for a kisspeptin test anytime soon, since this is the first study to explore the link between the peptide levels and miscarriage risk, says Ali Abbara, MBBS, clinical research fellow in the Department of Investigative Medicine at Imperial College London. However, Abbara hopes the test may one day help doctors identify and treat underlying conditions linked to miscarriage.

In the meantime, talk to your doctor about whether or not you should get your hCG levels tracked. While your risk of miscarriage is probably a lot lower than you think, the earlier you get the test, the better: "Most miscarriages occur early in pregnancy, and miscarriage rates significantly fall with increasing gestation," he says, noting that most miscarriages occur before 24 weeks.