A Descriptive Correlational Study of Bacterial Vaginosis in Pregnancy and Its Association With Preterm Birth: Implications for Advanced Practice Nurses

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PurposeTo expand on prior (often contradictory) research implicating maternal infection as a cause of preterm birth, specifically exploring whether bacterial vaginosis (BV) in pregnancy caused preterm birth in a sample of 103 women in a rural Mississippi obstetric-gyneco-logic clinic.Data SourcesThis descriptive correlational study explored the relationship between BV and preterm birth, using retrospective chart data from a purposive sample of 103 women (for a power level of 95%) from one rural obstetric-gyneco-logic clinic.ConclusionsContrary to the majority of published research, this study did not find a positive correlation between BV and preterm birth. This unexpected result raises questions, particularly given that the preponderance (86%) of women who tested positive for BV during their pregnancy were African American, a population in which both BV and preterm birth are more prevalent.Implications for PracticeWhether to screen for BV in pregnancy is a clinically important question not only in terms of the health of mother and child but also in terms of responsible use of resources. Clear findings supporting beneficial health results for screening would dictate screening regard-less of the cost. But research continues to lack consensus on the efficacy of BV screening during pregnancy in preventing adverse pregnancy outcomes. In this study, as in some of the literature, the risk of preterm birth did not correlate positively with BV during pregnancy. In the absence of that correlation, cost gains importance. Nurse practitioners (NPs) must use resources wisely, including time, laboratory tests, and medications. Although some specialists recommend screening or treating all pregnant patients for BV, the current practice of not screening or treating all pregnant patients seems warranted until definitive findings establish a conclusive correlation between BV and preterm birth.

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