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Infection Tied to Miscarriages

Vaginal infections are a nuisance, but doctors say they can also have serious consequences. A common female infection may be linked to early miscarriage, reports CBS News Health Correspondent Dr. Emily Senay.

A new study in the British Medical Journal finds that women who develop the infection bacterial vaginosis may be at higher risk for early miscarriage.

The study compared the pregnancies of two groups of women who had received in vitro fertilization, one group with bacterial vaginosis and one without it. In the end, 36 percent of the women with the condition miscarried during the first trimester, compared to 19 percent of the second group. That makes the risk almost twice as high for women with the infection.

If you think you have an infection, you should see your doctor. Once diagnosed, the condition is easily treatable with antibiotics. However, some doctors are uncomfortable with prescribing them during the first trimester, and researchers aren't sure if treating bacterial vaginosis before or during pregnancy can decrease the chance of miscarriage.

If you're thinking of having a baby, you should undergo preconception counseling and be tested for all bacterial infections before you think about conceiving, recommends Dr. Senay.

"We don't know what causes it," she adds. "We know it is an overgrowth of some of the normal flora found in the vagina. We're not sure if there is one organism that triggers it. We're not clear."

Dr. Senay says it's not surprise, though.

"What we've learned is that bacterial vaginosis may very well contribute to premature labor in women much further on in pregnancy," she said. "It would make sense that bacterial vaginosis might also contribute to miscarriage earlier on in pregnancy."

Senay reports vaginosis didn't hurt the chance of conception, just the chance of carrying the baby to term.

She adds that it's one of many reasons to see your doctor before you conceive.

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