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What is the IVIG controversy?

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The intravenous immunoglobulin controversy questions whether IVIG therapy is safe, effective and worth the expense for preventing women from experiencing recurrent miscarriages, according to the University of Chicago Medicine. Study results released in 2010 by the University of Chicago Recurrent Pregnancy Loss Program showed women did not benefit from IVIG treatment. As of 2015, miscarriages are the complications that occur most frequently during pregnancy. IVIG therapy can cost about $5,000 per dose when physicians administer it outside of clinical trials.

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Scientists produce intravenous immunoglobulin using purified human plasma containing white blood cell antibodies that combat foreign substances including viruses and bacteria, explains University of Chicago Medicine. IVIG is expensive to produce, and using it carries risks. Physicians administer the fluid to hospital patients intravenously when treating diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. Seven medical centers in the United States and Canada, including the University of Chicago Medical Center, participated in a study for more than 10 years to determine whether IVIG immunotherapy would prevent miscarriage.

Based on the study results released in 2010, the University of Chicago Recurrent Pregnancy Loss Program concluded that IVIG treatment for unexplained recurrent miscarriages was not useful and that the program should discontinue using the therapy. Recurrent miscarriage means a woman miscarries within her first 20 weeks during at least three pregnancies, notes University of Chicago Medicine. Approximately 1 percent of couples experience recurrent miscarriages.

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