Physicians from more than 50 countries convened in Cannes for the second World Congress on Recurrent Pregnancy Loss, January 19 to 22.

The inaugural congress was spearheaded last year by Dr. Asher Bashiri, director of the maternity center at the Soroka University Medical Center in Beersheva, Israel, as a way to promote international collaboration to advance medical knowledge about miscarriages, what might prevent them, and how better to evaluate and care for women who miscarry.

“For many years, the etiology as well as treatment options have not changed since little research was done and the condition didn’t get much attention,” said Bashiri, director of the obstetrics and gynecology clerkship for advanced medical students at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. “Some new important aspects are immunologic tests and treatment, genetic tests and coagulation tests.”

In about half the occurrences of spontaneous abortion no cause can be identified, leading to frustration and anxiety for couples concerned about future pregnancies.

Conference topics included research conducted at Soroka about infertility among women with recurring miscarriages; the significance of sperm selection to increase the chance of carrying to full term after recurrent miscarriages; uterine malformations and fetal abnormalities; the relationship between recurring miscarriages and clotting; and emotional support for women who miscarry.

“Healthcare providers should remember that the couples need much psychological and emotional support in addition to the evaluation and the treatment,” said Bashiri. “This support itself was found to improve the chance of carrying to full term in the next pregnancy.”

The recurrent pregnancy loss clinic Bashiri has run at Soroka for some 15 years has collected a database of information on more than 1,000 patients.

Soroka is part of the Clalit Health Services system, which is supported in the United States by the Israel Healthcare Foundation. Bashiri acknowledged the foundation for funding ongoing Israeli research into recurrent pregnancy loss.

“Patients should never give up on the hopes of becoming parents,” he said. “Some treatments are not appropriate for the beginning stages but may be justified in more complicated cases.”