New Study Identifies Possible Major Link to Miscarriage

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A new study shows that high levels of insulin are toxic to human placenta cells. Dr. Mark Trolice of Fertility CARE: The IVF Center notes that the discovery may lead to a better understanding and possible prevention of miscarriage.

Fertility CARE: The IVF Center | Possible Link to Miscarriages

Mark Trolice, Director of Fertility CARE: The IVF Center, outlines the causes of miscarriages and the possible link between miscarriages and insulin.

“There are many possible causes of miscarriage,” says Dr. Trolice, “some stemming from the mother’s own body chemistry, others from prescription drugs, life and work habits, age, diet and other factors.

According to a study recently published in the journal Fertility and Sterility[1], insulin resistance in women can cause levels of insulin so high as to be toxic to human placenta cells. If the data are replicated in further studies, doctors may be able to recommend dietary or pharmaceutical regimes that could reduce the danger of miscarriage in insulin-resistant women.[2] Dr. Mark P. Trolice, Director of Fertility CARE: The IVF Center, emphasizes that this preliminary research is encouraging because insulin resistance is a condition occurring in about one out of every three American women and can lead to prediabetes and diabetes if left untreated.

This new finding of insulin resistance in pregnant women joins a growing body of research on possible causes of, and thus ways to prevent, miscarriage. A recent Canadian study[3] finds that anti-anxiety drugs like Valium and Xanax, when taken in early pregnancy, raises the risk of a first-trimester miscarriage by 11%.[4] In Denmark, researchers investigating the effects of night shift work on pregnant women found that working two or more nights in a single week between weeks eight and 22 of pregnancy was associated with a 32% higher risk of miscarriage in the following week.[5]

More recently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued a consumer warning about an ingredient called vinpocetine, which is found in dietary supplements. According to data reviewed by the FDA, including a recent report by the National Institute of Health, consumption of vinpocetine during pregnancy may cause miscarriage or harm fetal development. Vinpocetine may be referred to on product labels as Vinca minor extract, lesser periwinkle extract, or common periwinkle extract.[6]

“There are many possible causes of miscarriage,” says Dr. Trolice, “some stemming from the mother’s own body chemistry, others from prescription drugs, life and work habits, age, diet, and other factors. The better we understand them the better our likelihood of steering past these dangers to the desired result of a healthy full-term birth.”

Dr. Trolice notes that Fertility CARE: The IVF Center takes a holistic approach to fertility care, considering all factors—including those only now being discovered—in preserving maternal and fetal health. He also points out that miscarriage is more common than is generally realized and should not be considered a source of shame; based on a woman’s age, her risk of miscarriage can range from 10-80%.

Given that, Dr. Trolice offers some facts about miscarriage of which expecting couples should be aware:

  • They tend to happen early. Miscarriages usually occur during the first trimester, commonly between six and 12 weeks of gestation.
  • Bleeding doesn’t necessarily signal a miscarriage. In the first trimester, 15% to 25% of pregnancies can experience vaginal bleeding.
  • Going through one doesn’t mean you’ll have another. While miscarriage is common, only about five percent of women experience two miscarriages in a row.
  • Age plays a role. In general, the incidence of miscarriage in women under age 30 is 10%, but it increases through her thirties to as much as 33% by age 40 and 80% by age 45.

About Fertility CARE: The IVF Center
Fertility CARE (Center of Assisted Reproduction and Endocrinology): The IVF Center provides patient-centered, evidence-based, and individually customized reproductive care in a comfortable and compassionate setting. This Central Florida IVF clinic is the most successful facility of its kind in the Orlando area, and consistently earns 5-star patient ratings in online reviews. Established in 2003 by founder and director Dr. Mark P. Trolice, it is the only fertility clinic in the country to offer both male and female testing, evaluation, and treatment. Today, the practice encompasses the Center for Male Infertility, headed by a fellowship-trained male reproductive specialist; the Mind/Body Institute, overseen by a licensed clinical reproductive psychologist; and the IVF Laboratory of Central Florida, led by a Board-certified high complexity laboratory director. Fertility CARE - The IVF Center offers a comprehensive range of infertility tests and treatment options as well as genetic testing, egg freezing with fertility preservation, egg donation, embryo cryopreservation, surrogacy and other services. For full details, visit

About Dr. Mark P. Trolice
Mark P. Trolice, M.D., is the founder and Director of Fertility CARE - The IVF Center. He also serves as Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology (OB/GYN) at the University of Central Florida College of Medicine in Orlando and Medical Director of the Egg Donor Program at Cryos International, the world’s largest sperm donor bank. Dr. Trolice is Board-certified in OB/GYN and reproductive endocrinology and infertility (REI), and he is a Fellow of the American Colleges of Obstetrics and Gynecology (FACOG), Surgeons (FACS), and Endocrinology (FACE). Renowned as Orlando’s most successful fertility specialist, Dr. Trolice and his wife battled infertility for over 10 years before adopting their children. This journey gave him unique insights into patients’ struggles and is included in his forthcoming book, “The Fertility Doctor's Guide to Overcoming Infertility—Discovering Your Reproductive Potential and Maximizing Your Odds of Having a Baby” from Harvard Common Press. Dr. Trolice is a sought-after expert with dozens of broadcast and print appearances in addition to national acclaim as one of America’s Top Doctors® and repeat recipient of the American Medical Association’s “Physician’s Recognition Award”. In January 2019, he launched his "Fertility Health" podcast interviewing nationally renowned experts on vital topics in reproductive medicine. Learn why he has earned the trust of patients and physicians alike:

1. Vega, Mario; Mauro, Maurizio; and Williams, Zev, “Direct toxicity of insulin on the human placenta and protection by metformin,” Fertility and Sterility, Vol. 111, No. 3, March 2019.
2. Praderio, Caroline, “Researchers may be closer to determining one of the reasons miscarriages happen,” Insider, January 29, 2019.
3. Sheehy, Odile; Zhao, Jin-Ping; and Bérard, Anick, “Association Between Incident Exposure to Benzodiazepines in Early Pregnancy and Risk of Spontaneous Abortion,” JAMA Psychiatry, May 15, 2019.
4. Reinberg, Steven, “Valium, Xanax Could Raise Miscarriage Risk,” HealthDay News, May 15, 2019.
5. Carroll, Linda, “Night shift work linked to a higher risk of miscarriage,” Reuters, March 26, 2019.
6. “Statement on warning for women of childbearing age about possible safety risks of dietary supplements containing vinpocetine,” U.S. Food and Drug Administration, June 3, 2019.

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