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Education And Debate

Natural killer cells, miscarriage, and infertility

BMJ 2004; 329 doi: (Published 25 November 2004) Cite this as: BMJ 2004;329:1283

Rapid Response:

Natural killer cells, miscarriage, and infertility and nutritional deficiencies

Moffatt and colleagues’ conclusions, that peripheral blood
measurements of natural killer (NK) cells, the main type of lymphocyte in
the uterine mucosa at implantation and during early pregnancy, gives no
useful information on uterine NK cells, and that the use of powerful
therapies to reduce levels of NK cells in women with infertility or
recurrent miscarriage is unjustified and is associated with known side
effects to mother and fetus, are very welcome.1

Some of the hundreds of women I have screened for nutritional status
have been alarmed to be told that they must be treated to reduce NK cells
when they become pregnant. The reality is that the commonest abnormalities
causing immune system dysfunction and impairing the activities of hundreds
of enzymes in women with either unexplained infertility and/or recurrent
miscarriages, are deficiencies of zinc, copper and magnesium.2,3

The monitored correction of such serious essential nutrient
deficiencies results in a much higher success rate than the well
documented success achieved with such patients simply using care and
reassurance in a dedicated miscarriage clinic. This was, among 160 women,
a next pregnancy miscarriage rate of 26% among women attending an early
pregnancy clinic compared with 51% among non-attendants.4

In contrast, a low-allergy high-protein diet, together with monitored
repletion of mineral, vitamin and essential fatty acid deficiencies gives
excellent outcomes.2 In 1985 we had reported that 107 babies born to
women with poor reproductive histories (mostly infertility and recurrent
miscarriages) were normal after completing the Foresight programme and
only two of them were premature.5 The 1997-1999 survey, which is available
from Foresight, Godalming, Surrey, recorded a miscarriage rate of 3.2% for
779 conceptions. This was achieved by mostly using a hair analysis, which
is less reliable than sweat or blood cells for diagnosing zinc, magnesium
and copper deficiencies.

Anyone interested in preventing miscarriages can easily replicate
these results by using monitored nutritional repletion. Peripheral blood
tests for white cell zinc and red cell magnesium concentrations and red
cell superoxidase (SODase) function are available at a commercial
laboratory in London. The cost is refundable to patients with private
health insurance, if they also have systemic signs of immune dysfunction
such as headaches, migraine or allergies.

Many studies, including the very latest, listed in NBCI Pub Med,
prove the importance of zinc, copper and magnesium and SODase deficiencies
in numerous illnesses. The sharp increase in a range of serious childhood
illnesses is appalling. It is puzzling if the largest miscarriage clinic
in Europe omits to test for nutrient deficiencies before or during
pregnancy. An important cause of nutritional deficiencies is the use of
exogenous progesterones and oestrogens and fertility drugs.

1 Moffatt A, Regan L, Braude P. Natural killer cells, miscarriage,
and infertility. BMJ 2004;329:1283-1285 (27 November),

2 Grant ECG. Nutritional supplements to prevent pregnancy
complications., 16 Jul 2004

3 Scholl TO, Reilly TM. Trace element and mineral nutrition in human
pregnancy. In Bodgen JD, Klevay LM, eds. Clinical Nutrition of the
Essential Trace Elements and Minerals: The Guide for Health Professionals.
Totawa, NJ: Humana Press Inc., 2000: 115-138.

4 Clifford K, Rai R, Regan L Future pregnancy outcome in unexplained
recurrent first trimester miscarriage. Hum Reprod 1997;12: 387-9.

5 Barnes B, Grant ECG, Kingsley P, et al. Nutrition and pre-
conception care. Lancet 1985; 2:1297.

Competing interests:
None declared

Competing interests: No competing interests

28 November 2004
Ellen C G Grant
physician and medical gynaecologist
20 Coombe Ridings, kingston-upon-Thames, KT2 7JU, UK