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Birth. 2015 Jun;42(2):173-80. doi: 10.1111/birt.12154. Epub 2015 Feb 10.

Routine Use of an Antenatal Infection Screen-and-Treat Program to Prevent Preterm Birth: Long-Term Experience at a Tertiary Referral Center.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Division of Obstetrics and Fetomaternal Medicine, Medical University Vienna, Vienna, Austria.
Section for Medical Statistics (IMS), Center of Medical Statistics, Informatics and Intelligent Systems, Medical University Vienna, Vienna, Austria.



Vaginal infection in early pregnancy is associated with preterm birth. This study evaluates long-term results after integrating an antenatal screen-and-treat program for asymptomatic vaginal infections into routine pregnancy care.


We retrospectively analyzed data of all women with singleton high-risk pregnancies delivering at our tertiary referral center between 2005 and 2014. The intervention group included women who presented for a prenatal visit for a planned birth between 10 + 0 and 16 + 0 gestational weeks. Women were routinely screened for asymptomatic infections using Gram stain. In cases of bacterial vaginosis, candidiasis or trichomoniasis, women were treated according to our clinical protocol. The control group included women who did not undergo the program. Prenatal care was equal in both groups. Preterm birth served as the primary outcome variable.


Of the 20,052 women with singleton pregnancies, 8,490 (42.3%) participated in the antenatal prevention program. The mean gestational age at birth was 38.8 ± 2.6 weeks and 37.5 ± 4.3 weeks in the intervention and control groups, respectively (p < 0.001). The incidence of preterm birth was significantly lower in the intervention group than in the control group (9.7% vs 22.3%; p < 0.001). Low-birthweight neonates, stillbirths, and late miscarriages were less frequent in the intervention group (p < 0.001).


Long-term results support the use of an antenatal infection screen-and-treat program to prevent preterm birth. If integrated into routine pregnancy care at a high-risk obstetrical setting, this simple public health intervention could lead to a significant reduction in preterm birth, low infant birthweight, and adverse pregnancy outcomes.


preterm birth; prevention; screening; vaginal infection; vaginosis

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