If you’ve experienced pregnancy loss, you’re not alone.Miscarriage is the single most common pregnancy complication, ending roughly one in four pregnancies. High Insulin Levels Can Cause Miscarriages.
Whilepregnancy loss can occur for many reasons, most often the exact cause cannot beidentified.
Buta new study published today in the medical journal Fertility and Sterility mayprovide an explanation and help prevent future losses from happening in thefuture.
Researcherssay they have found that insulin is toxic to early placenta cells and canresult in miscarriage.
Inaddition, metformin, a common medication used for thetreatment of type 2 diabetes, as well as a reduced-carbohydrate, low-sugar dietcan provide a low-cost, safe solution for women with insulin resistance tocarry a pregnancy to full term.
“Thereason that’s important is that we really struggle with unexplainedmiscarriages,” Dr. Zev Williams, director of the Columbia University Fertility Center anda study co-author, told Healthline.
loss is so difficult for a woman and couple on many levels and being told ‘it
just happens’ or ‘just don’t stress about it’ or ‘you need to relax,’ all those
things have such a negative connotation for a woman who is going through these
losses,” said Williams.
Williamsexplains that the driving goal of their research is to do everything possibleto prevent pregnancy loss.
Andwhile the link between insulin resistance and pregnancy loss is nothing new,the culprit before this study was thought to be glucose sugar.
“Ourdata suggests that it might actually be insulin that’s causing the damage andthat would change how we screen and treat women with recurrent pregnancy loss,”Williams said.
The impact of insulin
Insulin resistance occurs when cells in your muscles, fat, and liver don’t react properly to insulin.
Such cells are negatively impacted and can’t easily retrieve glucose from your blood.
Forsome women, this isn’t a critical issue. According to the National Institute ofDiabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), “as long as yourpancreas can make enough insulin to overcome your cells’ weak response toinsulin, your blood glucose levels will stay in the healthy range.”
But Williams explains that the same process that keeps them in the healthy range can harm a developing placenta.
“When pregnant, this higher insulin level that they’re making may damage the placenta,” he said.
Riskfactors and signals
It’s Williams’ hope that insulin resistance can be detected atan early stage to prevent pregnancy loss.
“First, it was initially like, ‘Oh the sugar levels are reallyhigh, now we have to start to treat.’ Here the data is suggesting that it mighteven be before the sugar levels start to get high that the insulin levels arehigh and treatment is necessary,” Williams said.
While pre-screening is always a good idea, women in certaindemographics have a higher risk of insulin resistance, according to theNIDDK.
Women with these risk factors should make insulin screening apriority prior to or in the early stages of their pregnancy:
- overweight or obese
- over 45
- a family history of diabetes, heart disease, or stroke
- sleep issues
- polycystic ovarian syndrome
- health conditions such as hormonal imbalances, high blood pressure, and abnormal cholesterol levels
- African American, Alaska Native, American Indian, Asian American, Hispanic/Latino, Native Hawaiian, or Pacific Islander American ethnicity
Similarly, women who are experiencing the following symptoms
should make screening a priority as these can be signs of insulin resistance,
according to Williams.
- hair on the face or body
- issues with high levels of acne
- sometimes irregular periods
Metformin was found in the
study to prevent the negative effects of elevated insulin levels on early
placenta cells, but is it safe for pregnant women?
“In studies looking atpregnancies, there has been no association between use of metformin and fetalmalformations or poor outcome,” Williams said.
What’s more, “metforminhappens to be an incredibly well-studied, widely used, and low-cost medicationthat’s been used for decades for treatment of insulin resistance and diabetes,”he said.
However, Williams cautions,“like with everything, if you don’t need it, it’s not good to take.”
For Williams, when comparingthe safety data ofmetformin to the risks of toxicity to pregnancy, there’s aclear potential benefit.
“This is one especially exciting area because the intervention is so low cost and so safe and could have potentially a very big impact in terms of reducing miscarriages,” said Williams. “The challenge is that the types of rigorous clinical trials that need to be done to show this definitively are expensive, and so we are working to get funding to conduct the proper clinical trials.”
The bottom line
Insulin is directly toxic to early placenta and elevated levels can lead to pregnancy loss, according to new research.
Metformin, a low-cost medication for diabetes management, as well as diet modifications in the form of reduced carbohydrates and sugar have shown promise in potentially preventing miscarriage.
Largerclinical in vitro studies are needed to confirm these findings.
Source : healthline