The maternal microbiome and pregnancy outcomes

Metagenomic research has begun to reveal the complex interaction between the gravid microbiome, maternal genetic polymorphisms, and spontaneous preterm birth.

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Chelsea Webb Fox, M.D., Kacey Eichelberger, M.D.

Volume 104, Issue 6, Pages 1358-1363


Alterations of the human microbiome are a known characteristic of various inflammatory disease states and have been linked to spontaneous preterm birth and other adverse pregnancy outcomes. Recent advances in metagenomic research has proven that the placenta harbors its own rich diverse microbiome, even in clinically healthy pregnancies, and preterm birth may be a result of hematogenous infection rather than exclusively ascending infection as previously hypothesized. In this review, we describe the microbiome in healthy nongravid and gravid women to contrast it with the alterations of the microbiome associated with spontaneous preterm birth. We also discuss the importance of host gene-environment interactions and the potential for microbiota-specific targeted therapies to reduce the risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes.

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Fertility and Sterility

Editorial Office, American Society for Reproductive Medicine

Fertility and Sterility® is an international journal for obstetricians, gynecologists, reproductive endocrinologists, urologists, basic scientists and others who treat and investigate problems of infertility and human reproductive disorders.