Women carrying human papillomavirus (HPV) run an elevated risk of preterm birth, a University of Gothenburg study shows. A connection can thus be seen between the virus itself and the risk for preterm birth that previously has been observed in pregnant women who have undergone treatment for abnormal cell changes due to HPV.
"I would like to point out that the increase in risk for preterm birth is small for the individual woman carrying HPV. But our results support that young people should get into the vaccination program against HPV," she says. Vaccination against HPV might not only prevent HPV related cancer but also be beneficial for pregnancy outcome.
Treatment for abnormal cervical cell changes due to HPV infection had previously been known to increase risk of preterm birth—defined as birth before 37 weeks' gestation. The present study shows that HPV as such is linked to a raised risk of preterm birth, and of complications for the child.