Creating a free account will enable you to subscribe to our daily and weekly email newsletters, as well as customize your reading experience to show only the categories most relevant to you.
Signing up only take a few minutes, so why not give it a try and see what you've been missing out on.
New research from the US has found a link between preterm births where the water sac around the baby breaks prematurely, and bacteria near where the walls of the sac are thinner.
The researchers, including Amy P. Murtha, associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Duke University School of Medicine, report their work in a recent online issue of PLOS ONE.
Prof. Murtha says:
"Complications of preterm births can have long-term health effects for both mothers and children. Our research focuses on why the fetal membranes, or water sac, break early in some women, with the overall goal of better understanding the mechanisms of preterm membrane rupture."
She and her colleagues caution that the study only establishes a link between bacteria and early rupturing, and that more research is needed to determine if one causes the other.
The water sac comprises two transparent membranes that hold the embryo, and later the fetus, as it grows until just before birth.
The inner membrane, the amnion, contains the amniotic fluid and the fetus, while the outer membrane, the chorion, contains the amnion and is part of the placenta.
Nearly a third of early deliveries are associated with water breaking, in what is referred to as premature preterm rupture of membranes (PPROM).
In earlier work, Prof. Murtha and colleagues had shown infection is linked to a higher rate of cell death in the chorion.
They found that women who experience PPROM tend to have a thinner chorion layer, and those with chorioamnionitis, where this layer is infected, had the highest rate of chorion cell deaths.
In this latest study, the team examined samples of chorion membranes to see if there were any patterns between presence of bacteria and membrane thinning.
Altogether they collected samples from 48 women after they gave birth. These included women who gave birth at term and preterm and patients with PPROM.
For each sample they measured the amount of thinning in the chorion membrane, and the presence of bacteria, both near and far from where the membrane ruptured.
In all cases they found the chorion membrane was thinner at the rupture site than the distant site.
But in samples from patients who experienced PPROM, they found chorion thinning was not restricted to the rupture site. The membrane was also thinner at sites distant from the rupture site, indicating that in PPROM, the chorion is thinner all over the water sac.
The researchers were surprised to find that bacteria were present in all the samples, contrary to the common-held view that fetal membranes are sterile environments.
However, they were not surprised to find bacteria levels were higher at the rupture site.
But in the samples from women who experienced PPROM, they found the highest levels of bacteria, both at the rupture site and the sites distant from it.
They also found that for all samples, the thinner the chorion membrane, the more bacteria that were present.
While the study was not designed to find out whether the presence of bacteria causes the chorion thinning, or the thinning increases the level of bacteria, the researchers suggest their findings offer valuable insights into the mechanisms underlying PPROM.
Prof. Murtha says their results "suggest the chorion and its thinning may be the battleground" for the changes that occur inside the fetal membrane when bacteria are present.
She and her colleagues now plan to find out if specific bacteria are involved in PPROM.
If they can find precisely which bacteria are involved, this could open routes to preventive treatments and screening tools.
Prof. Murtha adds:
"We then might be able to treat affected women with antibiotics and reduce their risk for PPROM. Our research is several steps away from this, but it gives us opportunities to explore potential targeted therapeutic interventions, which we lack in obstetrics."
In 2011, researchers at Yale School of Medicine also found a clue to the mystery of preterm delivery - excessive build up of calcium crystal deposits in the amniotic fluid - offering another possible explanation for PPROM.
Written by Catharine Paddock PhD
Copyright: Medical News Today
Not to be reproduced without the permission of Medical News Today.
Bacteria Localization and Chorion Thinning among Preterm Premature Rupture of Membranes; Kimberly B. Fortner, Chad A. Grotegut, Carla E. Ransom, Rex C. Bentley, Liping Feng, Lan Lan, R. Phillips Heine, Patrick C. Seed, Amy P. Murtha; PLOS ONE online 8 January 2014; DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0083338; Abstract.
Additional source: Duke Medicine news release 8 January 2014.
Visit our Pregnancy / Obstetrics category page for the latest news on this subject.
Please use one of the following formats to cite this article in your essay, paper or report:
Paddock, Catharine. "Bacteria 'could be a cause of preterm births'." Medical News Today. MediLexicon, Intl., 10 Jan. 2014. Web.
20 Apr. 2014. <http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/271037>
Paddock, C. (2014, January 10). "Bacteria 'could be a cause of preterm births'." Medical News Today. Retrieved from
Please note: If no author information is provided, the source is cited instead.
If you write about specific medications, operations, or procedures please do not name healthcare professionals by name.
For any corrections of factual information, or to contact our editorial team, please use our feedback form. Please send any medical news or health news press releases to:
Note: Any medical information published on this website is not intended as a substitute for informed medical advice and you should not take any action before consulting with a health care professional. For more information, please read our terms and conditions.
This page was printed from: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/271037.php
Visit www.medicalnewstoday.com for medical news and health news headlines posted throughout the day, every day.
© 2004-2014 All rights reserved. MNT is the registered trade mark of MediLexicon International Limited.