Miscarriages ‘Caused by Low Quality Sperm Not Health of Mother’
Experts are rethinking the causes of recurrent miscarriages after a new study found male partners in miscarriage had sperm with higher levels of DNA-damage
Miscarriages may be due to the quality of the sperm rather than the health of the mother, a study suggests.
The sperm of 50 men whose partners had experienced three or more consecutive miscarriages was compared to that of men whose partners had not had one.
Their samples had higher levels of DNA damage, the study found.
Recurrent miscarriage affects around one in 50 couples and is defined as the consecutive loss of three of more pregnancies before 20 weeks.
Until recently it was thought to be caused by health issues with the mother such as infection or immune problems.
by Alex Matthews King
Scientists overturning traditional assumption that phenomenon is almost exclusively determined by health of female partner
Fathers’ faulty sperm could be an underlying cause of repeated miscarriages, which have typically been attributed to health problems with the mother, according to a new study.
Researchers from Imperial College London (ICL) investigating the effects of sperm quality in multiple miscarriages found levels of DNA damage were twice as high in men whose partners had been affected.
Recurrent miscarriage, defined as three or more pregnancies lost before 20 weeks, affects one in 50 couples in the UK but was until recently typically attributed to infections or health problems affecting the mother.
The latest findings, which need to be replicated in larger trials, are now being used to develop drugs which reduce causes of DNA damage and lower chances of miscarriage. More immediately they can be used in fertility assessments to help fathers address lifestyle factors that increase risks of damage and miscarriage.
“We have thought, traditionally, that recurrent miscarriage is the ‘fault’ of the female partner,” the lead author of the study, ICL’s Dr Channa Jayasena, told The Independent.
“It’s a very well-studied subject and there are several diseases in women that can cause recurrent miscarriage.
“By recognising men’s sperm plays a role and understanding how that happens at a molecular level, we can design drugs to actually reduce oxidative stress and reduce DNA damage.
“There are efforts to develop these drugs currently … as well as looking at things in [the men’s] lifestyle – for example being severely obese or having an infection – that could cause this effect.”