A $30,000 grant from The Interwoven Souls Coalition will allow the St. Louis Fetal Care Institute to launch a study that may help decrease second trimester miscarriages that are thought to have been caused by cervical incompetence, which is when a pregnant woman’s cervix begins to dilate and thin before the pregnancy reaches term, resulting in premature birth.
A cervical cerclage (a procedure that stitches the cervix closed) can prevent premature delivery. But, is this invasive procedure beneficial for all women with cervical incompetence? The team at the St. Louis Fetal Care Institute is working to find the answer with its Cervical Insufficiency Biopsy at Time of Cerclage Study.
“This generous donation will make a dramatic difference in helping us determine the cause of some second trimester miscarriages,” ays St. Louis Fetal Care Institute Director Emanual (Mike) Vlastos, MD.
Jonathan and Carol Sparks founded the Interwoven Souls Coalition to raise money for research and education relating to the complications arising from a multiples pregnancy and birth. They founded the organization following the premature birth and death of their twin sons, Cale and Nathan.
There were not any complications with Carol’s pregnancy until she was 18-weeks along and went into early labor. The twin boys were born that day, and passed away minutes after delivery. The Spark’s started looking for an answer to why this happened, and couldn’t find one. They founded the organization to advance medical research so that families in their situation get to hear the sweet laughter of their children's voices.
The study will use a biopsy to look at the tissue of women who have had trouble with prior pregnancies, and are having a cervical cerclage placed in the current pregnancy. “This will give us the chance to see if there is a differentiation of tissue types between those with and without cervical insufficiency,” says Vlastos.
If a difference is found, physicians may be able to screen patients before undergoing a cervical cerclage procedure, which involves placing sutures to close the cervix, the lower part of the uterus that leads to the vagina. “The results of the study would potentially allow us to run a non-invasive test to see if the cervical cerclage will likely be beneficial for the mother and her unborn baby,” says Vlastos. “If we find the key to this, we may be able to answer the ‘why’ behind cervical insufficiency, and help save the lives of these babies who are born too early.”
The study is planned to start this year at SSM St. Mary’s Health Center following approval by the Saint Louis University Institutional Review Board (IRB) and the SSM Research Business Review (RBR).