Role of the infections in recurrent spontaneous abortion

J Matern Fetal Neonatal Med. 2011 Aug;24(8):983-9. doi: 10.3109/14767058.2010.547963. Epub 2011 Jan 24.


Embryo-fetal infections have been reported to cause recurrent spontaneous abortions (RSAs) at a rate lower than 4%. The possible mechanisms include production of toxic metabolic byproducts, fetal or placental infection, chronic endometrial infection, and chorio-amnionitis. Viruses appear to be the most frequently involved pathogens, since some of them can produce chronic or recurrent maternal infection. In particular, cytomegalovirus during pregnancy can reach the placenta by viremia, following both primary and recurrent infection, or by ascending route from the cervix, mostly following reactivation. Another herpesvirus, herpes simplex virus type 2, less frequently type 1, causes recurrent infections of the genital tract, which can involve the feto-placental unit. Parvoviruses have also been implicated in the development of repeated fetal loss. Among bacterial infections, Chlamydia trachomatis, Ureaplasma urealyticum,and Mycoplasma hominis have been mostly associated with occurrence of RSA. An increased risk of abortion among women with bacterial vaginosis (BV) during early pregnancy was also shown, but questions arise about the role of chronic BV in its occurrence. Although a definitive relationship between recurrently active infections and RSA is still lacking, mostly due to difficulties in demonstrating the pathogenic role of each individual isolated pathogen, diagnosis and therapy of RSA-related infections should be attempted. The diagnosis of infectious agents as a possible cause of RSA might lead to a therapeutic approach with antiviral drugs and antibiotics or using immunoglobulins, which can display both anti-infective neutralizing and immunomodulating properties.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Habitual / drug therapy
  • Abortion, Habitual / etiology*
  • Abortion, Septic* / diagnosis
  • Abortion, Septic* / drug therapy
  • Bacterial Infections / complications
  • Cytomegalovirus Infections / complications
  • Female
  • Genital Diseases, Female / complications
  • Herpes Simplex / complications
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy
  • Protozoan Infections / complications
  • Recurrence