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Publication Detail

Title: Cervicovaginal microbial communities deficient in Lactobacillus species are associated with second trimester short cervix.

Authors: Gerson, Kristin D; McCarthy, Clare; Elovitz, Michal A; Ravel, Jacques; Sammel, Mary D; Burris, Heather H

Published In Am J Obstet Gynecol, (2020 05)

Abstract: BACKGROUND: The cervix functions as a barrier to ascending pathogens in pregnancy. Short cervical length and lack of cervicovaginal Lactobacillus species are risk factors for spontaneous preterm birth; however, whether they interact to increase risk remains unknown. OBJECTIVE: We sought to examine the relationship between cervicovaginal microbiota and short cervix as well as their combined impact on spontaneous preterm birth risk. STUDY DESIGN: This was a secondary analysis of a prospective nested, case-control pregnancy study. Cervical swabs were collected between 16 and 20 weeks of gestation. Cervical length was measured per standard clinical care during a clinically indicated ultrasound at approximately 20 weeks of gestation. Cervicovaginal microbiota were analyzed with 16S ribosomal RNA gene sequencing and classified into community state types among 67 cases of spontaneous preterm birth, 47 cases of medically indicated preterm birth, and 358 cases of term births. Logistic regression was used to model associations of community state type IV, a community characterized by a paucity of Lactobacillus species and a wide array of anaerobic bacteria, and short cervix (<25 mm) as well as to model the association of a combination of short cervix and community state type IV with the odds of spontaneous preterm birth. RESULTS: Among the 472 women in the data set, there were 38 with short cervix (8.1%) and 177 with community state type IV (37.5%). Short cervix was associated with spontaneous preterm birth (adjusted odds ratio, 15.59; 95% confidence interval, 6.77-35.92). Women with community state type IV had higher odds of short cervix (adjusted odds ratio, 2.17; 95% confidence interval, 1.04-4.53) as well as spontaneous preterm birth (adjusted odds ratio, 1.97; 95% confidence interval, 1.06-3.65). While the interaction of community state type IV and short cervix was not significant (P = .771), women with both short cervix and community state type IV (n = 20) had higher odds of spontaneous preterm birth compared with women with both normal cervical length and community state types I, II, III, or V (n = 277) (adjusted odds ratio, 21.8; 95% confidence interval, 6.78-70.2). CONCLUSION: Community state type IV, characterized by a diverse set of strict and facultative anaerobes and a paucity of Lactobacillus species, is associated with increased odds of short cervix. Women with both community state type IV and short cervix have higher odds of spontaneous preterm birth than women with either factor alone. Determining the cascade of events leading to premature cervical shortening, including dysbiosis, may be critical in preventing spontaneous preterm birth.

PubMed ID: 31816307 Exiting the NIEHS site

MeSH Terms: Adult; Case-Control Studies; Cervical Length Measurement; Cervix Uteri/diagnostic imaging*; Cervix Uteri/microbiology*; Female; Humans; Lactobacillus/isolation & purification*; Microbiota; Pregnancy; Pregnancy Trimester, Second*; Ultrasonography, Prenatal; Vagina/diagnostic imaging; Vagina/microbiology*; Young Adult

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