November 26, 2004

Researchers Warn About Fertility Tests

Women with recurrent miscarriage and infertility were warned Friday to be careful about tests and treatments they may take.

Researchers in this week's British Medical Journal said such women often are undergoing treatment that has no scientific rationale and are linked with known risks to mother and fetus.

The report said fertility clinics are increasingly offering women tests to measure the number and activity of natural killer cells circulating in their blood.

These cells are found in the uterus and accumulate in large numbers during early pregnancy, but their function is completely unknown, the study said.

The tests are based on the speculation that women with recurrent miscarriage and infertility have raised levels of NK cells. As a result, many women are offered powerful treatments, such as steroids or immune suppressant drugs, to reduce the levels of NK cells.

But the authors from the University of Cambridge argue that these treatments are not appropriate.