A new study revealed that microbes of the cervix and vagina are strongly linked to the risk of premature birth. The study suggests that with further research, the finding could lead to potential treatment with therapies that promote good bacteria and the reduction of risk-raising bacteria to prevent premature birth. The award-winning study was conducted by the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania was featured in an annual meeting of the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine in Las Vegas.
Preterm birth or the premature birth occurs when birth is delivered before 37 weeks of pregnancy. This is the leading cause of death among children under five years of age worldwide. Around 1 in 10 babies born in the U.S. were premature in 2015. Between 2007 and 2014, the number of preterm birth fell because of the reduction in a number of teen pregnancy.
Michal Elovitz, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Perelman and lead author of the research states that in recent times, the number of premature births has risen again. The number of preterm babies in the United States has increased in 2016. Doctors still do not understand the underlying cause of this increase in preterm deliveries.
Babies who are born prematurely can experience serious problems. This includes jaundice, problems with breathing, vision loss, feeding difficulties, cerebral palsy, hearing impairment and developmental delay. Premature babies also have a financial and emotional toll on the families. The burden can exceed $26 billion per year of avoidable social and medical costs on a national scale.
The study found that the risk of preterm delivery varied in relation to certain species of microbes. The higher levels of bifidobacterium and lactobacillus were linked to lower risk of premature birth and higher levels of several anaerobic bacteria were linked with higher risk. Findings from the second analysis were from samples collected from 616 women in their 22-23 weeks of pregnancy.
Prof. Elovitz states that further research is needed to confirm the findings of the study and begin to investigate whether increasing good bacteria and lowering bad bacteria population can help in preventing premature birth as reported by Medical News Today.
In another study that researched on Bacterial Vaginosis and its likely contribution to preterm labor researchers have stipulated that it is possible that a modified long term prescription of low-grade antibiotics may be a deterrent for women who has history of preterm labor although no solid evidence was yet found that give grounds for this to be a standard of care as reported in ObGyn.net.