Mothers-to-be infected with HPV may be nearly FOUR TIMES more likely to give birth prematurely, study claims

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  • Women with HPV types 16 and 18 are more likely to give birth early in pregnancy
  • If a causal link is confirmed, HPV vaccines may reduce premature birth rates
  • In the UK, one in 13 babies is born prematurely, one in 10 in the US

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Mothers who are infected with the human papillomavirus (HPV) are nearly four times more likely to have a premature baby, a study has suggested.

Canadian academics found a ‘significant’ link between pregnant women who give birth prematurely and HPV types 16 and 18, which cause 70 percent of cervical cancers.


Eight out of 10 people will be infected with HPV at some point in their lives, which is usually spread through sex.

Experts from the University of Montreal have yet to provide a reason why being infected may increase the risk of premature birth.

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But they suggested that the virus could cause changes in the vaginal microbiome, which could lead to inflammation and early delivery.

Genital tract viruses – the most common of which is HPV – can make women more vulnerable to bacterial infections that can trigger premature labor, doctors said.

If a causal link is confirmed, an HPV vaccine could reduce premature birth rates and the ‘associated burden’ on health services, the scientists said.

Premature birth is one of the leading causes of death in newborns and can lead to lifelong health problems.

In the UK, one in every 13 babies is born prematurely – classified as before 37 weeks of pregnancy – while for the US the figure is one in 10.

A total of 60,000 babies are born prematurely in the UK each year, which equates to about eight in every 100 births (File)

Eight out of 10 people will be infected with HPV at some point in their lives, which is usually spread through sex.

Eight out of 10 people will be infected with HPV at some point in their lives, which is usually spread through sex.

The cause remains a mystery for the majority of premature births, but smoking as well as conditions such as diabetes have been linked to early labor.

Long-term effects for premature babies include learning, vision and hearing disabilities.

What is HPV? Infection linked to 99% of cervical cancer cases

Human papilloma virus (HPV) is the name of a group of viruses that affect your skin and the moist membranes lining your body.

Spread through vaginal, anal and oral sex and skin-to-skin contact between the genitals, it is extremely common.

Eight out of 10 people will be infected with this virus at some point in their lives.

There are over 100 types of HPV. Of which about 30 can affect the genital area. Genital HPV infections are common and highly contagious.

Many people never show symptoms, as they can arise years after infection, and most cases go away without treatment.

It can cause genital warts, and has also been known to cause cervical cancer by creating abnormal tissue growths.

Annually, an average of 38,000 cases of HPV-related cancer are diagnosed in the US, 3,100 cases of cervical cancer in the UK, and about 2,000 other cancers in men.

What other cancers does it cause?

  • Neck
  • Neck
  • Tongue
  • tonsils
  • cunt
  • Vagina
  • gender
  • anal

Several animal studies have linked HPV to pregnancy risks but research in humans has provided mixed results.

In a study published in the journal jama network openDr Helen Trottier and her team studied 899 pregnant women aged 19-47 at three hospitals from 2010 to 2016.

They wanted to determine whether there was an association between HPV and women who gave birth early, which they classified as 20 to 37 weeks after gestation.

The average pregnancy lasts 40 weeks, about nine months.

He said this research is of ‘extreme importance’ because the prevalence of HPV is highest among women in the age group with the highest birth rates (ages 25 to 34).

The virus – which can be found in the mouth and throat as well as the genitals – is often harmless for the majority and goes away on its own in most cases.

Of the participants, 378 (42 percent) had HPV in vaginal samples taken during the first trimester.

Most of these women (68 percent) were still infected in their third trimester.

Some 55 participants gave birth early – an average of 36 weeks gestation – of which 38 occurred naturally, while 17 were medically induced.

The researchers did not find a broad association between all types of HPV vaginal infection in the first trimester and premature birth.

However, women infected with HPV types 16 or 18 during the first trimester were 2.6 times more likely to give birth prematurely.

And those who had frequent infections during pregnancy were 3.7 times more likely to give birth early, the analysis suggested.

The researchers said: ‘Even in low-risk populations based on sociodemographic and sexual history characteristics, HPV infection occurs frequently in pregnancy, and most HPV infections detected in the first trimester persist through the third trimester. ‘

Previous studies found a very weak link between the virus and early birth, but some of these only examined a limited number of HPV types or did not take into account factors such as age and medical history, he said.

“All of those factors may have been linked to a biased, underestimation of the association between HPV infection and preterm birth,” the team said.


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