Miscarriages and the Immune System

Immunologic Causes of Multiple Miscarriages

How does the immune system work during a pregnancy?
What are some autoimmune pregnancy concerns? What is an autoimmune disorder?
What are the effects of an autoimmune disorder?
What are some common autoimmune disorders that can cause a
miscarriage?
Are there diagnostic tests & treatments for autoimmune diseases?


How does the immune system work during a pregnancy?

When the immune system is functioning correctly, it is able to recognize a pregnancy as a desirable condition within the body, even though the embryo will initially appear foreign to the mother. The embryo will suppress the mother's immune system from its normal and usual activity of attacking foreign entities. It will actually initiate certain processes whereby it directs the mother's immune system to protect the embryo from attack by other sources. If the immune system is defective, however, these actions do not occur and the immune system itself can attack the embryo and cause recurrent miscarriages.

What are some autoimmune pregnancy concerns?

There are many complex ways in which these issues with the immune system manifest and interfere with the natural process of the embryo. If you are wondering, "What is immunology?" and how it may be affecting your efforts to achieve a successful pregnancy, Dr. Braverman and our team can help provide answers.

We can explain, in simple terms, all about the following pregnancy concerns:

What is an autoimmune disorder?

Simply put, an autoimmune disorder is any condition that results in the body's immune system, attacking and destroying healthy tissue. Typically, your body's immune system works by producing white blood cells to attack and destroy harmful antigens in your body. What is an antigen? An antigen is any harmful substance, including bacteria, viruses, toxins, cancer, harmful cells, unsafe blood transfusions, etc. The immune system keeps the body healthy by destroying these substances. If you have an autoimmune disorder, your immune system can't tell the difference between harmful substances and healthy ones. Instead of attacking dangerous antigens, the body attacks healthy tissue.

There are a variety of reasons that people develop autoimmune disorders, but ultimately, doctors are unable to determine the exact causes of autoimmune disorders. However, there is some evidence that harmful bacteria, viruses, or certain drugs may inhibit the body's ability to differentiate between normal, healthy tissue and harmful substances like bacteria or a virus. In fact, some doctors and scientists believe that autoimmune disorders are genetic.

What are the effects of an autoimmune disorder?

Autoimmune disorders have many adverse effects on the body. Not only is healthy tissue attacked and destroyed, but organs may grow abnormalities and change functions. Additionally, blood vessels, connective tissues, joints, muscles, red blood cells, and the skin may be affected. Autoimmune disorders have the potential to significantly affect all organs in the body, including a pregnancy.

What are some common autoimmune disorders that can cause a miscarriage?

There are many types of autoimmune and autoimmune-related disorders. Some of the most common are:

  • Systemic Lupus
  • Crohn's Disease
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Scleroderma
  • Addison's disease
  • Celiac disease
  • Grave's disease
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Reactive arthritis
  • Pernicious anemia
  • Hashimoto’s thyroiditis
  • Type I diabetes

Additionally, a person can develop more than one autoimmune disorder at a time. For example, if you have celiac disease (gluten intolerance), you may develop pernicious anemia as well.

Are there diagnostic tests & treatments for autoimmune diseases?

Yes, there are! Our team can conduct a full battery of tests, answering your questions along the way and explaining what you need to know to understand the results of those tests. Most importantly, we will determine the most effective treatment for you and monitor your progress with the individual attention and care you deserve. In an independent poll conducted by the Long Island Press, Braverman IVF & Reproductive Immunology was voted the best infertility practice on Long Island three years in a row and we endeavor to continue living up to that standard.


Contact an infertility specialist for examination of your immune system and how it may be affecting your attempts to have a child.