Genital infection may be linked to miscarriage

December 05, 2002

The genital infection, bacterial vaginosis, may be linked to miscarriage during the second trimester of pregnancy (13-15 weeks), concludes a study in this week's BMJ.

Researchers at St George's Hospital Medical School identified 1,216 pregnant women attending 32 general practices and five family planning clinics in London who were less than 10 weeks into their pregnancy.

Women were asked to provide a self administered vaginal swab and to complete a questionnaire at 16 weeks. The questionnaire asked about personal characteristics, medical history, and pregnancy outcome.

Overall, 121 women miscarried before 16 weeks and 174 had bacterial vaginosis. Those who were positive for bacterial vaginosis had a higher risk of miscarriage at 13-15 weeks compared with women who were negative for the infection.

Although bacterial vaginosis is not a strong predictor of early miscarriage, it is associated with miscarriage in the second trimester at 13-15 weeks, say the authors. The presence of chlamydial infection was too low for it to be a major risk factor for miscarriage.

The study also shows that screening for genital infections using self administered vaginal swabs is feasible in pregnant women in the community. This might be important for prevention of adverse outcomes related to infection later in pregnancy, they conclude.


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