Open Access Study protocol

Randomized controlled trial of probiotics for the prevention of spontaneous preterm delivery associated with intrauterine infection: study protocol

Leticia Krauss-Silva1*, Maria Elizabeth L Moreira2, Mariane B Alves13, Maria R Rezende1, Alcione Braga4, Karla G Camacho1, Maria Rosa R Batista5, Clarisse Savastano2, Antonio Almada-Horta6 and Fernando Guerra5

Author Affiliations

1 Health Technology Assessment Unit, National School of Public Health, Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, Brazilian Health Ministry, Brazil, R. Leopoldo Bulhões, 1480, Rio de Janeiro, 21041-210, Brazil

2 Clinical Research Unit, Fernandes Figueira Institute, Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, Brazilian Health Ministry, Av. Rui Barbosa, 716, Rio de Janeiro, 22250-020, Brazil

3 Institute of Mathematics, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Av. Athos da Silveira Ramos - 149, Rio de Janeiro, 21941-909, Brazil

4 PROCEP, Pró-Cardíaco, R. General Polidoro, 142, Rio de Janeiro, 22280-003, Brazil

5 Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Fernandes Figueira Institute, Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, Brazilian Health Ministry, Av. Rui Barbosa, 716, Rio de Janeiro, 22250-020, Brazil

6 Federal University of Rio de Janeiro Medical School, Av. Brigadeiro Trompowski, Rio de Janeiro, 21044-020, Brazil

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Reproductive Health 2010, 7:14  doi:10.1186/1742-4755-7-14

Published: 30 June 2010

Abstract

Background

Spontaneous preterm deliveries that occur before the 34th week of gestation, and particularly before the 32nd week of gestation, have been strongly associated to intrauterine infection, ascending from vagina, and represent the largest portion of neonatal deaths and neurological problems. Bacterial vaginosis, characterized by a diminished or absent flora of lactobacilli and increased colonization of several anaerobic or facultative microorganisms, increases two times the risk of preterm delivery before the 34th week. Trials of antibiotics failed to show efficacy and effectiveness against spontaneous preterm birth related to bacterial vaginosis. Some studies indicate benefit from selected probiotics to treat genitourinary infections, including bacterial vaginosis.

Objective

The purpose of this study is to evaluate the effectiveness of the early administration of selected probiotics to pregnant women with asymptomatic bacterial vaginosis/intermediate degree infection to reduce the occurrence of spontaneous preterm delivery and related neonatal mortality and morbidity.

Methods/Design

Women attending public prenatal care services in Rio de Janeiro will be screened to select asymptomatic pregnant women, less than 20 weeks' gestation, with no indication of elective preterm delivery. Those with vaginal pH > = 4.5 and a Nugent score between 4 and 10 (intermediate degree infection or bacterial vaginosis) will be randomized to either the placebo or the intervention group, after written informed consent. Intervention consists in the use of probiotics, Lactobacillus rhamnosus GR-1 and Lactobacillus reuteri RC-14, 2 capsules a day, each capsule containing more than one million bacilli of each strain, for 6-12 weeks, up to the 24th-25th wk of gestation. Ancillary analyses include quantification of selected cervicovaginal cytokines and genotyping of selected polymorphisms. The randomization process is stratified for history of preterm delivery and blocked. Allocation concealment was designed as well as blinding of women, caregivers and outcome evaluators. The study will be supervised by an independent monitoring committee. Outcomes under study are preterm delivery (< 34- < 32 weeks of gestation) and associated neonatal complications: early neonatal sepsis, bronchopulmonary dysplasia, periventricular leukomalacia, necrotizing enterocolitis, and prematurity-related retinopathy; definitions were adapted from those recommended by the 2002 version of the Vermont-Oxford Network. Trial registration at NIH register: NCT00303082.