Miscarriages (including the MTHFR Gene)

Why is this Gene Important?

This gene controls one of the body’s key functions and when it mutates this leads to problems. There are two common mutations of the MTHFR gene called C667T and A1298C. In one study more than half the US population had one copy of the C667T mutation and 10% had two copies (homozygous). When there are two mutations then gene activity can be reduced by half.

When this happens one of the basic processes of the body, methylation, is slowed down. This leads to a reduced ability to produce glutathione (the key substance in detoxification) and problems processing folic acid and repairing genes. In particular it makes converting folic acid to its active form, methylfolate, difficult.

Where does this make a difference?

It plays a part in a range of diseases but probably the most important is recurrent miscarriages. One issue here is that folic acid is given in pregnancy and this can make the situation worse as people with this gene mutation find it difficult to process synthetic folic acid. They need to use methylfolate instead of folic acid and sometimes methylcobalamin (the methylated form of vitamin B12). These mutations are commoner in many auto-immune diseases and can also be an important factor in anxiety. It can predispose to pre-eclampsia and birth defects.

What’s to be done?

Genetic testing isn’t normally available on the NHS. It would be sensible for anyone with a history of miscarriage to change the form of folic acid that they use in pregnancy.

What else

There is a known link between miscarriages and electromagnetic radiation and makes sense for anyone in pregnancy to keep their exposure to mobile phones, wifi, DECT phones and smart meters to a minimum. Electric blankets have been linked with miscarriages. Exposure to electromagnetic fields from mobile phones has been found to increase the possibility of miscarriage three-fold.

Having enough time between pregnancies is also vital. We know that in healthy long-lived societies they would leave a gap of two years between pregnancies (presumably to build up nutrients) and eat more of the high nutrient foods during this time.

A wide range of chemicals has been found to increase the rate of miscarriage. For instance women with miscarriages were found in a Japanese study to have higher levels of bisphenol A, a plasticiser. Remember anything put onto your skin is absorbed into the body as is anything you can smell (such as aerosols).

It is interesting that night-shift workers have an 85% higher risk of miscarriage, suggesting adequate sunlight is important.