Early Delivery Decisions Should be 'Mom-focused'

Mothers risk factors to be considered in preterm birth

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Not all women’s bodies act the same before early labor. One small study reports that race as well as the presence of specific bacteria are two factors that play a role in preterm delivery.

Researchers from the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Texas, and other institutions studied black and Caucasian women exposed to different bacteria (or pathogens) associated with spontaneous preterm birth.

They found that a woman’s inflammatory response, which leads to preterm labor, differs among women, and each woman's response may be influenced by many factors, including her race. 

"Risk factors may affect your birth plan - ask your OB/GYN."

They conclude that risk factors unique to each woman much be taken into account when a doctor is considering early delivery interventions.

In the study, the doctors took samples of normal term fetal membrane from 5 black women and 5 Caucasian women. The fetal membranes were placed in an organ explant culture system (a method of examining tissue) and then stimulated the membranes with these infectious pathogens: Ureaplasma urealyticum, Ureaplasma parva, Mycoplasma hominis, Gardanerella vaginalis, E coli, group B Streptococcus, and Polyporhans gingivalis. Concentrations of IL-1 beta, IL-2, IL-8, IL-10 and TNF-alpha were also studied in the fetal membranes.

The team analyzed the different immune responses of the women and found that the immune and biochemical and responses were not universal, compared to samples that were not stimulated.

They varied depending on the pathogen, which may play a role in the racial disparity, concludes the study. Also, black women have a different fetal immune response to the E. coli pathogen, compared to Caucasian women, the study reports.

The changes in a person’s body that lead to preterm labor vary from individual to individual, says lead study investigator Dr. Ramkumar Menon, with the University of Texas Medical Branch, Obstetrics & Gynecology department, in a press release.

Other factors that can affect a person’s risk include body-mass index, nutritional deficiencies, behavioral issues, environmental or other types of stress, and genes, he says.

This study was funded by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, and presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine in Dallas, Texas.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
February 10, 2012
Last Updated:
February 14, 2012