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Progesterone Supplements Do Not Help Women with History of Miscarriages

Adapted from "A Randomized Trial of Progesterone in Women with Recurrent Miscarriages" published in The New England Journal of Medicine.

Progesterone supplements have been used for more than 60 years, in hopes of avoiding another miscarriage. But a new study published in The New England Journal of Medicine shows these hormone supplements do not increase the chances of carrying pregnancy to term.

The study is being lauded as the first well-designed test of the topic. Women participated in the trial at 36 locations in The United Kingdom and nine in the Netherlands. Neither the doctors nor the patients knew whether they were receiving the supplements, in the form of vaginal suppositories, or not.

In the study, 826 women aged between 18 and 39 were selected who earlier have faced unexplained, recurrent miscarriages and were trying to conceive. They were randomly divided to use a daily vaginal supplement of 400 milligrams of progesterone or a placebo for up to 12th week of their pregnancy.

In the study, researchers did not find any difference in conception rates between women who got progesterone medication during their first trimester and those who got a placebo treatment.

Nearly two thirds of the women in the trial had their baby, whether they had progesterone or the placebo.

The trial results also showed that there were no significant negative effects of progesterone treatment for women or for their babies.

The study also underscores how easily one can believe that a therapy is beneficial, as more than 60% of women who in the past had three or more miscarriages had a healthy pregnancy.

December 2015

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