Pregnant women who contract a common bacterial infection of the vagina are more likely to miscarry in the early stages of pregnancy, researchers have found. Bacterial vaginosis, a form of inflammation of the vagina, is the most common cause of abnormal discharge among women of childbearing age. It affects 24% of pregnant women.
The researchers studied 850 women undergoing in vitro fertilisation (IVF) in Leeds. These women conceived at the same rate as women with normal vaginal bacteria. However, 29% of those with the infection subsequently miscarried, compared to only 18% of women who were free of infection.
Dr Janet Wilson, a consultant physician specialising in genito-urinary medicine, said it was possible that the infection caused endometritis, an inflammation of the uterus. She said: "This could spread up into the womb, causing inflammation of the lining of the womb and releasing various chemicals which causes the blood vessels to constrict, effectively starving the fertilised egg of vital nutrients.