Screening Pregnant Women for Bacterial Vaginosis: U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Recommendations. Ann Intern Med. 2008;148:I-30. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-148-3-200802050-00002
Download citation file:
Published: Ann Intern Med. 2008;148(3):I-30.
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) is a group of health experts that makes recommendations about preventive health care.
Bacterial vaginosis is caused by the overgrowth of bacteria that normally live in the vagina. Often, women with bacterial vaginosis have no symptoms, but some women have vaginal discharge, odor, or itching. Studies show that pregnant women with bacterial vaginosis are more likely than women without the condition to have babies that are premature or low birthweight. Doctors can test for the condition by swabbing the cervix during pelvic examination and sending the swabs to the laboratory. To treat bacterial vaginosis, a woman takes an antibiotic either by mouth or by a gel inserted into the vagina. Because poor pregnancy outcomes are associated with bacterial vaginosis and because screening (that is, testing for the condition in people who have no symptoms) and treatment for the condition are easy to perform, some experts favor screening all pregnant women for bacterial vaginosis. However, it is unclear whether screening pregnant women for bacterial vaginosis and treating those with the condition actually improve pregnancy outcomes.
The USPSTF reviewed published research to evaluate the benefits and harms of screening and treating asymptomatic pregnant women for bacterial vaginosis. Potential benefits include full-term, normal-birthweight babies and other healthy pregnancy outcomes. Harms include side effects of antibiotic treatment or poor pregnancy outcomes due to treatment. They considered information for women at low risk for poor pregnancy outcomes, such as those who had no previous preterm delivery, and for women at high risk, such as those who had previous premature delivery.
No studies directly showed that screening for bacterial vaginosis improves pregnancy outcomes for women at low or high risk for preterm delivery. Good evidence indicated that treating bacterial vaginosis does not benefit pregnant women at low risk for premature delivery. Studies about whether treatment benefits women at high risk for preterm delivery had conflicting results. Although good studies on the harms of screening for bacterial vaginosis are not available, the authors found fair evidence that false-positive results can occur and lead to unnecessary treatment of women who do not really have the condition.
The USPSTF recommends against screening for bacterial vaginosis in pregnant women at low risk for premature delivery. The USPSTF believes that information is insufficient to recommend either for or against screening for bacterial vaginosis in pregnant women at high risk for premature delivery.
These recommendations do not apply to pregnant women who have symptoms of bacterial vaginosis. The recommendations may change as new studies become available.
The In the Clinic® slide sets are owned and copyrighted by the American College of Physicians (ACP). All text, graphics, trademarks, and other intellectual property incorporated into the slide sets remain the sole and exclusive property of the ACP. The slide sets may be used only by the person who downloads or purchases them and only for the purpose of presenting them during not-for-profit educational activities. Users may incorporate the entire slide set or selected individual slides into their own teaching presentations but may not alter the content of the slides in any way or remove the ACP copyright notice. Users may make print copies for use as hand-outs for the audience the user is personally addressing but may not otherwise reproduce or distribute the slides by any means or media, including but not limited to sending them as e-mail attachments, posting them on Internet or Intranet sites, publishing them in meeting proceedings, or making them available for sale or distribution in any unauthorized form, without the express written permission of the ACP. Unauthorized use of the In the Clinic slide sets will constitute copyright infringement.
Infectious Disease, Prevention/Screening.
Results provided by:
Copyright © 2016 American College of Physicians. All Rights Reserved.
Print ISSN: 0003-4819 | Online ISSN: 1539-3704
Conditions of Use
This PDF is available to Subscribers Only