Archives of Gynecology and Obstetrics

, Volume 281, Issue 4, pp 589–600 | Cite as

Vaginal microbial flora and outcome of pregnancy

  • Laura Donati
  • Augusto Di Vico
  • Marta Nucci
  • Lorena Quagliozzi
  • Terryann Spagnuolo
  • Antonietta Labianca
  • Marina Bracaglia
  • Francesca Ianniello
  • Alessandro Caruso
  • Giancarlo Paradisi
Materno-fetal Medicine



The vaginal microflora of a healthy asymptomatic woman consists of a wide variety of anaerobic and aerobic bacterial genera and species dominated by the facultative, microaerophilic, anaerobic genus Lactobacillus. The activity of Lactobacillus is essential to protect women from genital infections and to maintain the natural healthy balance of the vaginal flora. Increasing evidence associates abnormalities in vaginal flora during pregnancy with preterm labor and delivery with potential neonatal sequelae due to prematurity and poor perinatal outcome. Although this phenomenon is relatively common, even in populations of women at low risk for adverse events, the pathogenetic mechanism that leads to complications in pregnancy is still poorly understood.


This review summarizes the current knowledge and uncertainties in defining alterations of vaginal flora in non-pregnant adult women and during pregnancy, and, in particular, investigates the issue of bacterial vaginosis and aerobic vaginitis. This could help specialists to identify women amenable to treatment during pregnancy leading to the possibility to reduce the preterm birth rate, preterm premature rupture of membranes, chorioamnionitis, neonatal, puerperal and maternal–fetal infectious diseases.


Vaginal ecosystem study with the detection of pathogens is a key instrument in the prevention of preterm delivery, pPROM, chorioamnionitis, neonatal, puerperal and maternal-fetal infections.


Vaginal flora Bacterial vaginosis Clinical diagnosis Pregnancy 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Laura Donati
    • 1
  • Augusto Di Vico
    • 1
  • Marta Nucci
    • 1
  • Lorena Quagliozzi
    • 1
  • Terryann Spagnuolo
    • 1
  • Antonietta Labianca
    • 1
  • Marina Bracaglia
    • 1
  • Francesca Ianniello
    • 1
  • Alessandro Caruso
    • 1
  • Giancarlo Paradisi
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Obstetrics and GynecologyCatholic University of Sacred HeartRomeItaly
  2. 2.Department of Obstetrics and GynecologyCatholic University of Sacred HeartRomeItaly

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