Infection with HPV linked to higher risk of preterm birth
Women carrying human papillomavirus (HPV) run an elevated risk of preterm birth, a study shows. A connection can thus be seen between the virus itself and the risk for preterm birth that previously has been observed in pregnant women who have undergone treatment for abnormal cell changes due to HPV.

A Swedish study published in the PLOS Medicine comprises data on more than a million births. Accordingly, the researchers have compared very large groups. They emphasize that the findings do not support any assessment of risk levels in individual women of childbearing age.

Altogether, 1,044,023 births between 1999 and 2016 were included. Of the women concerned, 23,185 had previously received treatment, while 11,727 were untreated and had a positive HPV screening test immediately before or during their pregnancy.

Of the women previously treated for CIN, 9.1 percent gave birth prematurely. The corresponding proportion in the group with HPV infection in conjunction with their pregnancies was 5.9 percent. This was a statistically significant increase compared with a reference group of women whose cervical screening test had always been normal, of whom 4.6 percent gave birth prematurely.

"I would like to point out that the increase in risk for preterm birth is small for the individual woman carrying HPV. But our results support that young people should get into the vaccination program against HPV," the author says.