How a medical trial gave mum her miracle baby after years of miscarriage heartbreak

A Sunderland mum who faced the heartbreak of multiple miscarriages wants to give hope to others six years on from the birth of her little boy after she took part in a progesterone trial.
Madeline pictured with son Ari Anderson. Left: Ari as a baby.Madeline pictured with son Ari Anderson. Left: Ari as a baby.
Madeline pictured with son Ari Anderson. Left: Ari as a baby.

Madeline Anderson’s son, six-year-old Ari, was the first child born following a hormone trial at Sunderland Royal Hospital in 2012/13.

After suffering through the heartache of a numerous miscarriages, a midwife suggested the Promise Trial – a study which gave the hormone progesterone to women to see if it could increase the likelihood of a successful pregnancy.

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Madeline, who is also mum to 12-year-old Acer, said her and Ari’s dad, Adam Brown, felt like they had ‘nothing to lose’.

Mum Madeline with baby Ari AndersonMum Madeline with baby Ari Anderson
Mum Madeline with baby Ari Anderson

During the trial, women in the early stages of pregnancy are either given the hormone progesterone – which is naturally secreted by the ovaries and placenta in early pregnancy – or a placebo.

A year after Ari was born, Madeline was told she had received the progesterone and the 39-year-old believes the hormone is the reason she now has her ‘amazing and bubbly’ little boy, who attends Fulwell Infant School.

Madeline said: “He was the first baby to be born at Sunderland Royal Hospital out of the trial.

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“I think when you’re in the position we were in you'll try anything. It was a case of we had nothing to lose by not doing it.”

Madeline Anderson with daughter Acer, 12, and son Ari, sixMadeline Anderson with daughter Acer, 12, and son Ari, six
Madeline Anderson with daughter Acer, 12, and son Ari, six

Overall results from the Promise trial, however, found progesterone did not improve outcomes for women with a history of unexplained recurrent miscarriages.

But a similar clinical trial, called PRISM, looked at women who had early pregnancy bleeding.

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The trial found a 4% increase in the number of babies born to women who were given progesterone and had previously had one or two miscarriages, compared to those given a placebo.

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For women who had previously had three or more miscarriages there was a 15% increase in the live birth rate for women who had received progesterone.

Madeline said: “I can’t say medically but personally I believe the trial is the reason we have Ari.

“We went through miscarriage after miscarriage and we were given this and my pregnancy was successful.

“The staff that looked after us were amazing I can’t thank them enough.

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“I want others to know that progesterone worked for me. I want to give other people hope that it can work.”

Amna Ahmed, Consultant Lead for the Early Pregnancy Assessment Unit, said that results of the PRISM trial led to changes at the trust.

She said: “Whilst it was disappointing that the results from the Promise trial showed that progesterone did not reduce the chance of pregnancy loss in women who had suffered recurrent miscarriages, the results of the PRISM trial were positive and encouraging.

“Based on the results of the PRISM trial we have now implemented this change in our Early Assessment Pregnancy Unit and offer progesterone to all women who experience bleeding in early pregnancy and who have had a previous miscarriage."

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