Does evidence of inflammation on Papanicolaou smears of pregnant women predict preterm labor and delivery?
GROUND: Preterm delivery is the most common cause of neonatal morbidity and mortality in the United States. There is evidence that cervicovaginal infection could predispose to preterm labor. This study explored a possible association of evidence of inflammation on an otherwise normal Papanicolaou smear obtained during pregnancy with subsequent preterm labor and preterm delivery. METHODS: Using a retrospective matched cohort design, we studied women who gave birth to live singleton infants at the University of Missouri Hospital and Clinics during a 21-month period. Papanicolaou smears were obtained from 1 to 8 months before delivery and were interpreted in the same cytopathology laboratory. Data pertaining to outcome variables and potential confounding variables were collected from hospital charts. RESULTS: Incidence rates were 14.4 percent for labor < 37 weeks' gestation (preterm labor), 12.3 percent for hospitalization for preterm labor, 9.9 percent for delivery < 37 weeks (preterm de