Bacterial Vaginosis (BV)
BV is an imbalance of the vaginal flora characterized by diminished levels of beneficial lactobacilli and an overgrowth of various anaerobic bacteria. Reproductive age women with BV are more likely to experience infections of the placenta and amniotic fluid, preterm labor with delivery of premature low birth weight infants, increased susceptibility to sexually transmitted diseases including HIV, pelvic inflammatory disease, postpartum endometritis, and infertility. Despite the threat to the life and health of women and infants, BV is often overlooked and can be difficult to treat. While BV often initially responds to antibiotics, recurrences are common within a few weeks and occur in more than half of women within a year. Several studies report inconsistent results about whether antibiotic treatment for BV during pregnancy reduces the risk of preterm birth—in fact, some have shown that women treated with antibiotics are at even higher risk of delivering a preterm, low birth weight infant. Due to the lack of benefit from conventional antibiotic treatment, screening and preventative measures have not been enacted and BV continues to contribute to serious and life-threatening reproductive complications. Investigators at the Center for Women’s Infectious Disease Research are defining underlying biochemistry and glycobiology that may contribute to the causes or complications of BV.