Antonio Fernandes Moron from the Universidade Federal de São Paulo in Brazil will investigate whether the presence of specific bacterial populations in the vagina can predict preterm birth, which could form part of an inexpensive test suitable for low resource settings. Preterm birth leads to major short- and long-term health problems for the child. The causes are largely unknown, making it hard to identify pregnant women at increased risk who need monitoring and might benefit from treatment. They hypothesize that bacterial infections in the vagina during pregnancy can alter the length, elasticity and/or thickness of the cervix, thereby triggering preterm birth. To test this, they will analyze vaginal samples from 400 pregnant women located at four urban care centers throughout Brazil to identify bacteria and selected proteins that associate with specific cervical alterations detectable by ultrasound, and determine their association with preterm birth.
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