• Article

Race/ethnicity, vaginal flora patterns, and pH during pregnancy

OBJECTIVES: To investigate the relationship between bacterial vaginosis during pregnancy and black race/ethnicity. STUDY DESIGN: Gram staining was used to evaluate vaginal flora in 842 women at 24 to 29 weeks' gestation. RESULTS: Overall, 22.3% of blacks and 8.5% of whites had bacterial vaginosis. Vaginal pH and flora differed significantly by race/ethnicity; blacks were more likely to have pH > or = 4.5, no lactobacilli, small gram-variable and -negative rods, and Mobiluncus compared with whites (odds ratios 1.6, 1.5, 1.4, and 10.6, respectively). Quantity of morphotypes also differed, especially for Mobiluncus. Among women with Mobiluncus present (12.0% of blacks and 1.3% of whites), 73.3% of blacks compared with 40.0% of whites had the highest level. Adjustment for sociodemographics, sexual activity, sexually transmitted diseases, health behavior, and sexual hygiene did not explain these differences. CONCLUSION: We observed race/ethnicity differences in vaginal flora ecology. These differences may ultimately play a role in the larger proportion of preterm deliveries among black women compared with white women


Royce, R., Jackson, TP., Thorp, JM., Hillier, SL., Rabe, LK., Pastore, LM., & Savitz, DA. (1999). Race/ethnicity, vaginal flora patterns, and pH during pregnancy. Sexually Transmitted Diseases, 26(2), 96-102.