Preterm Birth and Perinatal Infections

Preterm birth contributes significantly to neonatal morbidity and mortality in the United States. The March of Dimes estimates that more than half a million babies are born prematurely in this country each year, 20% of which experience life-long disabilities such as severe lung problems, diabetes, heart disease, mental retardation, hearing loss, learning and behavioral problems, or cerebral palsy. A recent study estimated that preterm membrane rupture in pregnant women is associated with reproductive infection in up to 50% of cases. Investigators at the Center for Women’s Infectious Disease Research are interested in how specific bacterial infections trigger preterm birth, how infectious agents cause complications, and what we can do to prevent and treat these infections.