Background: Bacterial vaginosis has been associated with poor perinatal outcome. Since the infections are amenable to treatment, identification during pregnancy and treatment may reduce the risk of preterm birth and its consequences.
Objectives: The objective of this review was to assess the effects of antibiotic treatment of bacterial vaginosis in pregnancy.
Search strategy: We searched the Cochrane Pregnancy and Childbirth Group trials register and the Cochrane Controlled Trials Register.
Selection criteria: Randomised trials comparing one antibiotic regimen with placebo or no treatment, or which compare two or more alternative antibiotic regimens in pregnant women with bacterial vaginosis.
Data collection and analysis: Trial quality assessments and data extraction were done independently by three reviewers. Study authors were contacted for additional information.
Main results: Five trials involving 1504 women were included. These trials were of good quality. Antibiotic therapy was highly effective at eradicating infection during pregnancy as judged by 'test-of-cure' following therapy (odds ratio 0.22, 95% confidence interval 0.17 to 0.27). The effect of treating bacterial vaginosis during pregnancy showed a trend to less births before 37 weeks gestation (odds ratio 0.78, 95% confidence interval 0.60 to 1.02). The prevention of preterm birth less than 37 weeks gestation was most marked in the subgroup of women with a previous preterm birth (odds ratio 0.37, 95% confidence interval 0.23 to 0. 60).
Reviewer's conclusions: The current evidence does not support screening and treating all pregnant women for bacterial vaginosis to prevent preterm birth and its consequences. For women with a history of a previous preterm birth there is some suggestion that detection and treatment of bacterial vaginosis early in pregnancy may prevent a proportion of these women having a further preterm birth. It is not known whether this is associated with an improvement in neonatal well-being.