Tommy’s, the UK baby charity that funds research into miscarriage, stillbirth and premature birth, is to open the country’s first national clinical research centre dedicated to early miscarriage on 1 April. It aims to halve the number of miscarriages by 2030 by funding medical research to understand the cause and effect of miscarriage.

The National Early Miscarriage Centre will comprise a partnership of three universities: The University of Birmingham, The University of Warwick, and Imperial College London. The three sites will run specialist clinics enabling 24,000 women per year to access treatment and support and participate in Tommy’s research studies. The centre will seek to understand why miscarriage happens, if it is likely to happen again, how to prevent it, and how to provide appropriate aftercare.

While miscarriage is by far the biggest cause of pregnancy loss in the UK, it’s also the least understood. In 2013/14, only 4% of the government’s health research budget was spent on ‘reproductive health and childbirth’, with just a fraction of this going towards miscarriage research.Miscarriage causes untold heartbreak: 200,000 mothers and their partners are affected every year with 85 per cent of miscarriages occurring within the first 12 weeks. Parents often receive no answers when it happens.

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.”

“Through the National Early Miscarriage Centre we’ll raise the profile of early miscarriage research, and encourage other organisations to invest and help break the silence around miscarriage. To help make it a priority for the government, the team will highlight the economic cost for the NHS. They’ll also grow and lead a network of specialists, and work closely with other Tommy’s centres and researchers across the UK and internationally.”

Professor Arri Coomarasamy, from the University of Birmingham, said, “It’s fantastic that that so much of this work will be taking place in the West Midlands, building on our long-standing commitment and unrivalled track record in pioneering early pregnancy treatment and support.”

“Miscarriage is the most common complication of pregnancy but also a deeply personal and often isolating experience for women and couples. Many questions remain unanswered. Here in Birmingham we’re determined to find the answers.”

In the centre’s 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

Read more about the Tommy's National Centre for Miscarriage Research

Notes to editors

The National Early Miscarriage Centre will comprise a partnership of three universities: The University of Birmingham, which has played a leading role in almost all of the current research trials into miscarriage; The University of Warwick, which has pioneered the development of new concepts to understand the mechanisms of miscarriage and Imperial College London, which has led research over several decades which has changed international practice in miscarriage.

In the centre’s first year, £500,000 is being contributed by Tommy’s supporters. This is being matched by over £700,000 of institutional funding (figure does not include the universities’ overheads). Tommy’s expects the institutional funding to grow over the years as breakthrough discoveries are made. This is the model that has worked so effectively in Tommy’s other three research centres in London, Edinburgh and Manchester. Tommy’s estimate that every £1 of Tommy’s funding leverages £5 from institutional funders over five years – accelerating research to save babies’ lives.

Tommy’s is registered charity no 1060508 and SC039280. Registered address Nicholas House, 3 Laurence Pountney Hill, London EC4R 0BB

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