It is worth mentioning an interesting new study from the University of Missouri-Columbia in the US that has found a way to recreate uterine fluid in the lab thereby enabling thorough research into the fluid's impact on healthy pregnancy – not least in the hope that findings might influence management of pregnancies in the UK.
Uterine fluid is produced by the glands in the uterus during pregnancy and is thought to be vital in supporting sperm migration and the early development of the baby, by swapping information between the uterus and the embryo.
Previously, studying this fluid in women is complicated, however, since it requires invasive monitoring or experimentation during pregnancy, which can be counterproductive because of the risks involved.
Researchers hope that recreating the fluid in the lab will allow them to better understand the role played by uterine fluid and, in the long run, lower the risk of negative outcomes.
They also hope that by obtaining stem cells from expectant mothers, even before they conceive, they can study the composition of their uterine fluid to determine if any issues exist. For example, a deficit in certain 'coenzymes', crucial for metabolism, has been linked to birth defects and miscarriage. Being able to study the fluid should allow clinicians to detect and correct problems before they lead to complications.
Any such testing before and during pregnancy is hugely positive for parents. With my lawyer's hat firmly on, I would say that an early indication of potential complications gives parents the knowledge to consider how they will proceed and, ultimately, to face the extremely difficult decision of whether to continue with a high-risk pregnancy.
The more information clinicians can gather puts them in a better position to consider and discuss the right path and to determine the safest way forward. Maternity care providers have the responsibility to ensure all staff are fully trained in modern testing techniques and, just as importantly, how to best communicate results and risks to hopeful parents.
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