Premature birth could be predicted as early as 10 weeks afte
Mothers at risk of premature birth could be identified far sooner in pregnancy than current tests allow by looking for specific bacteria and chemicals in their cervicovaginal fluid.

The new study, published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation from researchers looks at how clues in the mother's vaginal microbiome (tiny living organisms that can affect health, like bacteria and viruses) and metabolome (small molecules naturally created by the body, like sugars and acids) can help predict the risk of premature birth.

The team looked at data from four UK hospitals on 346 mothers, 60 of whom gave birth prematurely (before 37 weeks pregnant). Researchers analyzed cervicovaginal samples taken at 10 to 15 weeks pregnant, and again at 16-23 weeks, then grouped women by their typical communities of bacteria and biochemicals. They checked this against cervical length measurements and followed up to see who gave birth early.

- For the first time, a specific bacterium (Lactobacillus acidophilus) was found to limit the risk of early premature birth, which researchers hope will lead to new preventative therapies.

- A combination of metabolites (glucose, aspartate, and calcium) and bacteria (Lactobacillus crispatus and acidophilus) was linked to birth at or before 34 weeks, while seven different metabolites (leucine, tyrosine, aspartate, lactate, betaine, acetate, and calcium) were associated with birth at or before 37 weeks.

By using cervicovaginal fluid samples, Researchers demonstrate the potential of multi-data type integration for developing composite models toward understanding the contribution of the vaginal environment to the risk of spontaneous preterm birth.

JCI Insight
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