Dr. Trottier

HPV 16-18 During Pregnancy Linked to Preterm Birth

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Helen Trottier Ph.D
Assistant Professor, Department of Social and Preventive Medicine,
Researcher, CHU Sainte-Justine Research Center
Université de Montréal
Montréal, Québec, Canada

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: We know that HPV infection can have serious consequences such as the development of cancerous lesions in the cervix. HPV infection is also very prevalent in young women of childbearing age but the possible consequences of HPV in pregnancy have been poorly studied. Some population registers around the world have shown a reduction in the risk of preterm birth with HPV mass vaccination, but we must be careful with this kind of ecological correlation.

We have set up a large cohort study in pregnant women to study the association between HPV in pregnancy and preterm birth by targeting certain HPV genotypes and the duration of the infection.

 MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?

Response: Our study showed a strong association between the persistence of HPV 16-18 during pregnancy and preterm birth. If the association is indeed causal, we can expect a significant reduction in preterm birth with HPV mass vaccination against HPV-16/18.

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

 Response: Considering that preterm births remain a major cause of perinatal mortality and morbidity, the association that we found is worrisome. We may have just found an explanation for an important part of idiopathic preterm births. However, it is important to remember that there is no treatment available to treat a current HPV infection and that vaccination is still the best way to prevent HPV infection and its complications, and should ideally be done before the onset of sexual activity to provide protection against HPV in women of childbearing age. 

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: It is important to continue research on the effects of HPV in pregnancy and on the possible consequences of perinatal HPV transmission in children. We’re continuing our research to determine the impact of HPV on other pregnancy outcome and to determine the frequency and short- and long-term consequences of mother-to-child transmission of the virus.

MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add? 

Response: This study has important implication to help us understand the impact of HPV in pregnancy. We may have just found an explanation for an important part of idiopatic preterm birth. No treatment exists for HPV infection. Vaccination is still the best way to prevent HPV infection and complications, and should ideally take place before the start of sexual activity.


Niyibizi J, Mayrand M, Audibert F, et al. Association Between Human Papillomavirus Infection Among Pregnant Women and Preterm Birth. JAMA Netw Open. 2021;4(9):e2125308. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2021.25308




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Last Updated on September 16, 2021 by Marie Benz MD FAAD