Infections linked to premature births

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According to a recent report, infections may be the cause of many premature births. Studies showed the more serious the infection, the more likely the premature birth and the sicker the infant. Studies also reported finding bacteria or (yick!) fungi in 15% of the amniotic fluid of women who'd given birth prematurely. Premature children are known to have an increased risk of everything from problems breathing and underdeveloped organs to cerebal palsy.

Prevention, of course, is the key. Twelve percent of births in the United States occur before the 37th week of pregnancy. Just how many of these could be preventable? The team responsible for conducting the study of infected amniotic fluid now have their sights set on detecting the infection before preterm labor starts and treating it.

The researchers studied 166 samples of amniotic fluid from pregnant women during the period of 1998-2002. They detected 25 were infected with the bacteria, fungi, or...what might be a new organism (very X-Files). All 25 infected women went on to preterm labor. Fifty-three women in whom no bacteria, etc. was detected, were able to have their preterm labor stopped.

Pic by zakwitnij.

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