Prematurity could be linked to the presence of chemicals in the vagina

Vladimir Nenov/EyeEm/Getty Images/EyeEm

Vladimir Nenov/EyeEm/Getty Images/EyeEm

This study links the presence of chemicals in the vagina to preterm birth.

BLESS YOU – “An additional way to reduce preterm births worldwide. » This is how the head of the gyneco-obstetrics department of the Antoine Béclère Hospital in Clamart, Alexandra Benachi, describes it this new study which establishes a link of association between the presence of chemicals in which vagina and the deliveries premature. Chemical substances also found in some cosmetic and hygiene products.

The study was published in the journal natural microbiology on January 12, 2023. To draw their conclusions, the Columbia University scientists followed 232 women through their second trimester of pregnancy the birth of her child. They are said to have experienced a premature birth – which occurs before the 37th week pregnancy.

The researchers paid particular attention to the “Vaginal Metabolome” of the women they followed. These are the small molecules – called metabolites – found in a part of the body. 700 different metabolites have been identified.

Some were particularly high in women who had experienced preterm labor. “Many of these metabolites are chemicals that are not produced by the human body or microbes”explained in a communicates Professor Tal Korem who participated in the study.

No causal relationship established yet

But for Alexandra Benachi, “The fact that there are metabolites in the vagina that have been linked to preterm birth is not new”. She insists and reassures: “It’s an association link, but we can’t say there’s a causal relationship. It is not because metabolites are present that the patient will give birth prematurely. »

The causes of premature birth are indeed varied: “Uterine malformations, infections, multiple pregnancies, some elderly patients who are at higher risk of developing pathologies…” Nevertheless, she considers this connection to be interesting to study.

But according to Professor Tal Korem, the source of these metabolites remains unknown, though “everything could be found in cosmetics and hygiene products”. This is indicated by the results of the study “We need to take a closer look at whether frequent environmental exposures actually lead to premature births, and if so, where these exposures come from”.

reduce premature births

The number of premature births should be reduced because they harbor risks. “The good news is that if these chemicals are to blame, it may be possible to limit these potentially dangerous exposures.”the professor suggests.

The presence of these substances outside of the human body could also help prevent premature births, according to Professor Tal Korem: “Our results show that vaginal metabolites have the potential to predict months in advance which women are likely to give birth prematurely. »

detection national perinatal of 2022, carried out by INSERM and Santé Publique France, tells us that the preterm birth rate has remained stable at around 7% between 2016 and 2021. “We should be able to do better and reduce preterm births”believes Alexandra Benachi.

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