The role of microbiome in preterm labor: Recent advances and future challenges

  • Zehra Jamil
  • Kumail Ahmed
  • Fyezah Jehan
  • Najeeha Iqbal Aga Khan University
Keywords: Microbiome, Dysbiosis, Preterm labor


Background: Our current understanding of preterm labor is limited in the context of dysbiosis of microbiome. Human microbiome is comprised of trillions of microorganisms, residing on and within our bodies that are associated with the vital function of organs and systems. Few studies have highlighted the role of maternal gut microbiome dysbiosis as a contributing factor for metabolic syndrome and may be associated with risk of preterm labor. A clear understanding of dysbiosis in placenta or vagina with early ripening of cervix for initiation of preterm labor is not fully elucidated.

Aim: Our aim is to contextualize the alteration in microbial community structure in maternal and fetal organs in association with risk of preterm labor.

Methods: In this review, we summarized the studies published from 2000 to 2016 in the field of microbiome in association with preterm labor.

Findings & Discussion: Evidence suggest that placental microbiome has promising correlation with preterm labor, while findings are equivocal for maternal gut and vaginal microbiome in inducing preterm labor.  Similar alteration in fetal intestinal microbiome of meconium is supposed to evoke an inflammatory response that may lead to preterm labor.

Conclusion: To understand the relationship of microbiome and preterm labor, both maternal and fetal microbiome should be studied in parallel to determine the causality. Dysregulation of immune response due to disturbance in normal or commensal flora might be an underlying cause of preterm labor.

Review Article