Researchers funded by the Genesis Research Trust have published a paper which links vaginal bacteria to cervical length and risk of preterm birth. Preterm birth, which is defined as births before 37 weeks of gestation, occurs in some 10% of pregnancies and is a leading cause of neonatal mortality and morbidity. Evidence suggests that although there can be many causes of preterm birth, microorganisms that lead to infection and inflammation in the reproductive tract, play a significant role.
A short cervix in the second trimester of pregnancy is a risk factor for preterm birth. The study led by Dr David MacIntyre found that women with a short cervix had higher levels of a bacteria called Lactobacillus iners in their vagina compared to those with a regular length cervix. A high amount of this bacteria was also seen in women who went on to have a preterm birth. In contrast, women who had a regular length cervix and delivered at term, maintained high levels of a different bacteria, Lactobacillus crispatus, throughout their pregnancy.
The study also showed that the use of a vaginal progesterone pessary for the prevention of preterm birth has no negative impact on the bacterial profile in the reproductive tract. The team state, ‘Patients and clinicians who may be concerned about “infection risk” associated with the use of a vaginal pessary during high-risk pregnancy can be reassured.’
The full article can be found in Microbiome Journal: microbiomejournal.biomedcentral.com/