British Pregnancy Advisory Service logo

13 March 2013

UK: Human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG) for preventing miscarriage

The authors concluded that the evidence supporting hCG supplementation to prevent RM remains equivocal. From Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews.

The authors note that recurrent miscarriage (RM) is defined as the loss of three or more consecutive pregnancies. Further research is required to understand the causes of RM, which remain unknown for many couples. Human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG) is vital for maintaining the corpus luteum, but may have additional roles during implantation which support its use as a therapeutic agent for RM.

This study set out to determine the efficacy of hCG in preventing further miscarriage in women with a history of unexplained RM. The authors searched the Cochrane Pregnancy and Childbirth Group’s Trials Register (30 September 2012) and reference lists of retrieved studies.

The selection criteria were randomised controlled trials investigating the efficacy of hCG versus placebo or no treatment in preventing RM. Quasi-randomised trials are included. Cluster-randomised trials and trials with a cross-over design are excluded. Two review authors independently assessed trials for inclusion and assessed the methodological quality of each study. Date were extracted by two review authors and checked for accuracy.

The authors included five studies (involving 596 women). Meta-analysis suggested a statistically significant reduction in miscarriage rate using hCG. The number of women needed to treat to prevent subsequent pregnancy loss was seven. However, when two studies of weaker methodological quality were removed, there was no longer a statistically significant benefit (risk ratio 0.74; 95% confidence interval 0.44 to 1.23). There were no documented adverse effects of using hCG.

The authors concluded that the evidence supporting hCG supplementation to prevent RM remains equivocal. A well-designed randomised controlled trial of adequate power and methodological quality is required to determine whether hCG is beneficial in RM.

Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, The General Infirmary of Leeds, Leeds, UK.

Human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG) for preventing miscarriage. Morley LC, Simpson N, Tang T. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2013 Jan 31;1:CD008611. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD008611.pub2.

tweet