Vaginal microbiome in early pregnancy and subsequent risk of spontaneous preterm birth: a case-control study. Academic Article uri icon


  • OBJECTIVES: To explore differences in the vaginal microbiome between preterm and term deliveries. DESIGN: Nested case-control study in 3D cohort (design, develop, discover). SETTING: Quebec, Canada. SAMPLE: Ninety-four women with spontaneous preterm birth as cases [17 early (<34 weeks) and 77 late (34-36 weeks) preterm birth] and 356 women as controls with term delivery (?37 weeks). METHODS: To assess the vaginal microbiome by sequencing the V4 region of the 16S ribosomal RNA (rRNA) gene in swabs self-collected during early pregnancy. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Comparison of relative abundance of bacterial operational taxonomic units and oligotypes and identifying vaginal community state types (CSTs) in early or late spontaneous preterm and term deliveries. RESULTS: Lactobacillus gasseri/ Lactobacillus johnsonii (coefficient -5.36, 95% CI -8.07 to -2.65), Lactobacillus crispatus (99%)/ Lactobacillus acidophilus (99%) (-4.58, 95% CI -6.20 to -2.96), Lactobacillus iners (99%)/ Ralstonia solanacearum (99%) (-3.98, 95% CI -6.48 to -1.47) and Bifidobacterium longum/ Bifidobacterium breve (-8.84, 95% CI -12.96 to -4.73) were associated with decreased risk of early but not late preterm birth. Six vaginal CSTs were identified: four dominated by Lactobacillus; one with presence of bacterial vaginosis-associated bacteria (Gardnerella vaginalis, Atopobium vaginae and Veillonellaceae bacterium) (CST IV); and one with nondominance of Lactobacillus (CST VI). CST IV was associated with increased risk of early (4.22, 95% CI 1.24-24.85) but not late (1.63, 95% CI 0.68-5.04) preterm birth, compared with CST VI. CONCLUSIONS: Lactobacillus gasseri/L. johnsonii, L. crispatus/L. acidophilus, L. iners/R. solanacearum and B. longum/B. breve may be associated with decreased risk of early preterm birth. A bacterial vaginosis-related vaginal CST versus a CST nondominated by Lactobacillus may be associated with increased risk of early preterm birth. TWEETABLE ABSTRACT: Largest study of its kind finds certain species of vaginal Lactobacillus + Bifidobacterium may relate to lower risk of preterm birth.

publication date

  • February 2019