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Infectious Diseases in Obstetrics and Gynecology
Volume 2010 (2010), Article ID 737425, 10 pages
Review Article

Recent Advances in Understanding the Microbiology of the Female Reproductive Tract and the Causes of Premature Birth

1Initiative for Bioinformatics and Evolutionary Studies (IBEST), University of Idaho, Moscow, ID 83844-3051, USA
2Department of Biological Sciences, Life Sciences South, Rm. 441A, University of Idaho, Moscow, ID 83844-3150, USA
3Institute for Genome Sciences, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD 21201-1559, USA
4Department of Mathematics, University of Idaho, Moscow, ID 83844-3051, USA
5Department of Statistics, University of Idaho, Moscow, ID 83844-3051, USA

Received 16 April 2010; Accepted 25 October 2010

Academic Editor: Joseph Hwang

Copyright © 2010 Xia Zhou et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Data derived from molecular microbiological investigations of the human vagina have led to the discovery of resident bacterial communities that exhibit marked differences in terms of species composition. All undergo dynamic changes that are likely due to intrinsic host and behavioral factors. Similar types of bacteria have been found in both amniotic fluid and the vagina, suggesting a potential route of colonization. Given that not all of the species involved in intrauterine infections are readily cultivated, it is important that culture-independent methods of analysis must be used to understand the etiology of these infections. Further research is needed to establish whether an ascending pathway from the vagina to the amniotic cavity enables the development of intrauterine infections.