Mothers whose first child is a boy are more likely to suffer subsequent miscarriages than women whose first born is a girl, researchers revealed this week.
Danish scientists studied 181 women who had suffered secondary recurrent miscarriages (SRMs) between 1986 and 2000.
They found 54.4% of those whose first pregnancy had led to the birth of a boy gave birth to a second live baby by January 2002.
But 73% of women whose first child was a girl had successfully given birth again in the same time period.
Dr Ole Christiansen, from the Righospitalet Fertility Clinic in Copenhagen, who led the research, said, “Our study shows that the majority of those who gave birth to a boy in their first pregnancy go on to have a second child. However this percentage is lower than for those who gave birth to a girl first.
“Among my patients I have at least 50 who never have a second child after the first birth of a boy, whereas approximately 20 patients did not experience another birth after having a girl. So there are patients who will never get a second child in both groups, but the risk is larger among women whose first child was a boy.”
Dr Christiansen presented the findings at the annual meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology in Madrid on 1.7.3.
He believes the way women’s immune systems react to male fetuses may explain the results. If so, it may be possible to treat women who suffer from SRMs.
Dr Christiansen has already conducted two trials in which women have been treated to make their immune systems tolerate male-specific proteins. The treatment increased the live birth rate by a factor of 2.3.
“For many years it has been well-known that pregnancies with boys carry an increased risk for a long series of obstetrical complications compared with girl pregnancies,” said Dr Christiansen.
“We believe that our research will be able to clarify whether these complications may be related to immunization against male-specific antigens.”