Pregnant women in their forties have a 50 per cent chance of miscarriage.
And women over 42 only have a five per cent chance of having a baby without fertility treatment.
This is because as women age, so do their eggs — increasing the chances of chromosomal abnormalities which then increases the risk of an egg failing to implant in the womb, or miscarriage shortly after implantation.
But a breakthrough from Monash University could help improve older women’s chances of getting pregnant and staying pregnant.
Research by Professor John Carroll and a team of international collaborators found there can be a fault in how older eggs control the levels of securin — a protein which is necessary to ensure that the egg develops normally in the womb.
The discovery opens the way to improving an older woman’s chances of having eggs with fewer chromosomal abnormalities through regulating the processes that control securin levels.
According to Professor Carroll, therapeutic approaches to improving egg quality in older women are very important at a time when women are delaying the age at which they attempt to have their first baby.
“It is immensely challenging because any treatments need to be safe and would usually need to be applied while the egg is in the ovary,” Professor Carroll said.
The research team is working with Monash IVF to identify new targets that may be able to prevent the degradation of securin during the IVF process.
“Now that we have an idea of what is causing the increased incidence of chromosomal abnormalities and miscarriages in older women, we can attempt to find ways to prevent this happening,” Professor Carroll said.
Research to improve fertility is only possible if we support our universities. To keep Australia clever, please sign the petition below.