Bacterial vaginosis and associated infections in pregnancy

Int J Gynaecol Obstet. 1996 Oct;55(1):23-8. doi: 10.1016/0020-7292(96)02744-0.


Objective: To assess the role of bacterial vaginosis (BV) on pregnancy complications in a developing community where mixed cervico-vaginal infections are common.

Setting: The antenatal clinic at King Edward VIII Hospital (KEH), Durban, South Africa, which is a large urban tertiary hospital serving mainly a Black underprivileged population of KwaZulu/Natal.

Methods: Asymptomatic pregnant women < or = 30 weeks gestation were recruited at their first antenatal visit. Clinical data including the sexual history were recorded. Swab specimens were collected from the vagina and endocervix for diagnosing BV, trichomoniasis, candidiasis, gonorrhea and chlamydial infection. Venous blood specimens were tested for antibody to syphilis and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). All women continued standard antenatal care and hospital records were reviewed following delivery to evaluate pregnancy outcome.

Results: BV was found in 52% of the women studied and was the commonest infection diagnosed. Mixed vaginal infections of BV and trichomoniasis were diagnosed in 14%. Only 29% of asymptomatic women did not have any microbiological evidence of a lower genital tract infection. A total of 46% of women studied had poor pregnancy outcome as measured by obstetrical complications, pregnancy loss and/or neonatal morbidity. There was a significant difference in outcome in women with BV (55 of 88) compared to those having infections other than BV (13 of 31), or no infection (5 of 9)-P = 0.005. This difference was for obstetrical complications of preterm delivery, premature rupture of membranes and intrauterine infection, but not for pregnancy losses and neonatal morbidity.

Conclusions: The high prevalence of BV and concomitant lower genital tract infections among asymptomatic pregnant women and the resultant adverse pregnancy outcome associated with BV, confirms reports from developed countries of the need for screening for BV at the initial antenatal clinic visit. Whether pregnancy outcome was worse in the presence of BV and other infections than BV alone could not be determined. Future studies with appropriate interventions are needed to evaluate the unique problems of developing countries.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Developing Countries*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious* / epidemiology
  • Pregnancy Outcome
  • Risk Factors
  • Vaginitis / epidemiology
  • Vaginosis, Bacterial* / epidemiology