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Bacterial Vaginosis and Preterm Birth


  • Laura Manns-James CNM, MSN, WHNP-BC

Laura Manns-James, CNM, MSN, WHNP-BC, 249 W College St, Oberlin, OH 44074. E-mail:


Although it has been clear for more than 2 decades that bacterial vaginosis increases the risk for preterm birth in some women, it is not yet fully understood why this association exists or how best to modify the risk. Incomplete understanding of this polymicrobial condition and difficulties in classification contribute to the challenge. The relationship between altered vaginal microflora and preterm birth is likely mediated by host immune responses. Because treatment of bacterial vaginosis during pregnancy does not improve preterm birth rates, and may in fact increase them, screening and treatment of asymptomatic pregnant women is discouraged. Symptomatic women should be treated for symptom relief. This article reviews the pathophysiology of bacterial vaginosis and controversy surrounding management during pregnancy. Agents currently recommended for treatment of this condition are reviewed.