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Insulin resistance may be to blame for miscarriages

ORLANDO, Fla. – The joy of pregnancy can quickly turn to fear when multiple miscarriages occur, especially when those miscarriages have no explanation.

But researchers discovered why a woman's blood sugar levels may be a factor.

As many as one in four pregnancies end in miscarriage each year, and it can be a heartbreaking experience for women.

"I felt kind of alone, even though I know my husband was there with me and my family knew about it. But I felt alone, because they weren't experiencing what I was experiencing," Devani Conner said.

After three miscarriages, Conner sought help from Dr. Mark Trolice, an infertility and reproductive endocrinology specialist. He understands what it's like to be in her shoes.

"My wife and I went through 10 years of infertility. Ten years of struggle, of watching my patients cry during the day and my wife cry at night. And finally, we resolved by adopting our five children," Trolice said.

Some miscarriages can be caused in part by hormonal problems, older age and poor lifestyle, like obesity and smoking. But 50 percent are unexplained. Now, a study published in the Journal Fertility and Sterility says that insulin resistance might be a culprit.

"What we're seeing is that in patients who have abnormal blood-sugar control as well as prediabetes, and another word for that is insulin resistance, that may be associated with miscarriage," Trolice said.

High insulin levels are toxic to the placenta. Trolice said women who have had a miscarriage should be screened for blood-sugar control.

"And if that's abnormal, we get that more normalized with medication," Trolice said.

Along with medication, women can adjust their diet to increase their chance of having a healthy baby.

Although it’s been known that insulin resistance is linked to miscarriage, this study was the first to understand that the insulin severely damaged placenta cells. The common diabetes drug, metformin, can now be prescribed to help women at risk.