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Current standards of care for decreasing the incidence of preterm labor and preterm birth are not decreasing the public health burden of spontaneous preterm birth. Preterm labor and birth contribute to the high infant mortality rate in the United States and around the world. The purpose of this paper is to review and examine research articles regarding the vaginal microbiomes and their association with preterm birth and preterm labor. A better understanding of the microbiome and how it influences labor may be a key component to reducing preterm labor and birth and ultimately decrease the infant mortality rate in the US. Several microbiome environments were found to be associated with preterm labor and preterm birth. These primarily were those associated with microbiomes dominated by Lactobacillus iners and Lactobacillus jensenii as well as other pathogens and Lactobacillus spp. depleted environments. Microbiome environments protective against preterm labor and preterm birth were dominated by Lactobacillus crispatus and Lactobacillus gasseri. Differences were noted among various racial and ethnic groups with higher incidence of negative microbial composition and preterm birth in the African American and Hispanic population. Risk factors in all ethnic groups included high BMI, poor diet, negative health behaviors, and stress. Potential interventions were discussed among these as well as the potential for the use of oral probiotics to decrease the incidence of preterm labor and preterm birth. Long term, further understanding of the vaginal microbiome and the role it plays in preterm labor and preterm birth can help to define what is a healthy microbiome during pregnancy and help to develop strategies that can promote normal microbiota during pregnancy.
Feltman, S. D. (2021). Vaginal Microbiomes and Preterm Labor/Birth [Masterʼs thesis, Bethel University]. Spark Repository. https://spark.bethel.edu/etd/716