The genital carriage of and was assessed in 72 women admitted to hospital in spontaneous preterm labour and in 26 women requiring preterm delivery for other reasons who formed a control group. Women in preterm labour significantly more often carried ureaplasmas, had large numbers of and subsequently developed chorioamnionitis than women in the control group. , in particular, occurred more frequently and in large numbers in women who had chorioamnionitis associated with ruptured membranes. Genital carriage of the various micro-organisms appeared not to be associated with fetal growth retardation, although subsequent isolation of ureaplasmas from infants was common. It is suggested that mid-second-trimester vaginal specimens should be cultured on a research basis to establish whether these various micro-organisms identify women at risk of labouring preterm.


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