A new study has allowed scientists to find a new method of identifying pregnant women at risk of giving birth prematurely. According to the findings of the study, this can be done easily by checking women for a bacterial community that resides in the female reproductive tract.
Our body is home to trillions of microbes; they reside in our gut, skin, vagina, mouth and more such body parts. This system is referred to as microbiome. A large share of these germs plays big roles in deciding how healthy the host human would be.
They have critical roles to play to enable robust immunity, good digestion, and several other such bodily functions. However, what they do is not always good for our health. They also often result in health problem of various kinds.
A research team at the Stanford University carried out a study for finding out the role played by some bacteria when a woman is pregnant. For that, they conducted weekly tracking of certain microbial neighborhoods in pregnant women. A total of healthy pregnant women took part in the study.
The results showed that women who experienced preterm labor played host to a different kind of vaginal bacteria compared to the other expecting moms.
Scientists identified another significant difference during the study. The level of lactobacillus bacteria, which is known for being extremely essential for vaginal health, was found to be significantly low in at-risk mothers. The researchers, however, haven’t yet managed to unearth the reason behind this.
Microbiology specialist Dr. David Relman, the Stanford University researcher who led the study, said that there might be a new angle, a new hook to pursue. He added that it’s very much possible that a woman’s microbiome contributes to this devastating and common condition.
Researchers are conducting this study, however, have made it clear that larger studies will have to be carried out in diverse female populations for confirming this link.
If the findings of this research are confirmed by bigger studies a day might come when we might see doctors prescribe probiotics and other methods of altering microbial neighborhoods to women at risk.
The factors that were earlier linked to preterm birth include pregnancy after the age of 40 or before 17, conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes, being overweight or underweight, etc.