SCOTTISH women are being forced to endure the pain of three stillbirths or miscarriages before being allowed a potentially life-saving blood test costing £35.
Around one in every 100 Scots are affected by the blood clotting disease Hughes Syndrome – which can cause the placenta to clot leading to the loss of an unborn baby.
The disease is treatable with low doses of aspirin and blood-thinning drugs which improve the chance of preventing miscarriage from below 20 percent to above 80 percent.
But current Scottish Government guidelines mean women are not tested for Hughes Syndrome until after they have suffered three consecutive miscarriages.
Kate Hindle, of the Hughes Syndrome Foundation, has criticised the policy, saying women should be offered the simple blood test after they suffer their first miscarriage.
She said: “We realise there are numerous causes of early miscarriage but there are strong medical grounds for testing after one, especially after a later miscarriage.
“In addition to the human costs, simple economics show that the cost involved in miscarriage is £1750 maximum, – 25 times more expensive than the cost of testing.”
Suzanne Wilson, (39) from Inverkeithing in Fife, had to endure the trauma of delivering three stillborn babies and losing one at just eight weeks before discovering she had Hughes Syndrome.
She had almost given up hope of having another child until she had a daily dose of heparin, a blood-thinning medicine that helped her give birth to Harris, who is now nine-and-a-half months old.
Suzanne, who also has three other children Callum (19), Jasmine (14), and Kaie (4), became pregnant for the fourth time in 2008 and it was the beginning of a traumatic time for her and partner Andrew Clark (48).
Suzanne said: “My first baby, Cole, died and there were no ‘classic’ miscarriage symptoms. I had no bleeding, I wasn’t in terrible pain, there was nothing.
“It was only after phoning and phoning that they took me in and gave me a scan. And I was right – my baby had already died.
In 2009 Suzanne fell pregnant again, she said: “I got the same telltale signs I had with Cole, my hormones all seemed to switch off and something instinctively told me that something was wrong.”
After an induction her daughter Demi, was stillborn.
In April 2010 there was further heartbreak for the family when daughter Phoebe was stillborn.
Suzanne and Andrew had almost given up hope when she fell pregnant again. This time her obstetrician felt confident the correct dose of heparin would ensure a successful pregnancy.
Happily she gave birth last August to a healthy baby boy Harris, weighing 6lbs 9oz. Suzanne has now joined campaigners asking for doctors to test woman earlier.
She said: “She said: “It is the most horrific feeling to look at the smallest of coffins.
“I put a rose on Phoebe’s coffin and told her, ‘I’m going to fight for you and change things, so people never have to go through this.’ “Why can’t they test for Hughes as a precautionary measure? Why do girls have to go on losing babies?
“To go through labour and deliver and hold a baby that you’ll never take home is the most traumatic thing I’ve ever had to do in my life.”
“But at the moment the protocol is you have to lose three before you are entitled to have this test.
“All I want is to save someone else the trauma and grief we had to go through. We were told time after time that it was just ‘one of those things’.
She added: “Getting people aware of this would save so much devastation for families. We’ve had to cremate a baby three times and it must be one of the hardest things to do in your life.”
The Scottish Government confirmed that Scottish women would only receive a test after three miscarriages, adding: “Hughes syndrome is a recognised cause of recurrent miscarriage and late miscarriage and testing is offered to women in these circumstances, as well as women who have experienced a late miscarriage or a stillbirth.
“Experts advise it is not appropriate to offer a test for Hughes to women who have had one miscarriage as it can lead to unnecessary further investigation and potentially inappropriate treatment.”