This initiative will advance knowledge of the diversity of vaginal microbiota in women in Papua New Guinea and build our capacity in microbiome research.
We will analyse samples from the Burnet’s Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies (HMHB) Program that aims to identify preventable causes of low birth weight and poor infant growth. This study followed 699 women and their infants from pregnancy through to 12 months after birth. Mid-vaginal swabs were collected at the first antenatal visit and post birth as well as extensive demographic, behavioural and clinical data. Eleven percent of babies in this study were low birth weight. We will define the composition of maternal vaginal microbiota in pregnancy using next generation sequencing technology and identify classes of vaginal microbiota associated with reduced infant birth weight and growth trajectories.
Therapies, such as live biotherapeutics, that aim to alter the microbiota are in pre-clinical development and some have entered clinical trials. Therefore, a detailed knowledge of microbiota features, which pre-dispose mothers to poorer infant growth outcomes, will inform the development of optimal interventions and therapies. These features may also identify biomarkers that could be used as a prognostic to predict if a woman is at high risk of adverse birth outcomes enabling targeted therapeutic intervention.
Burnet Microbiome Initiative
The role of the vaginal microbiome in protecting against or increasing susceptibility to sexually transmitted infection (STIs) and adverse reproductive health outcomes (such as preterm delivery and low birth weight) is unknown in this cohort of women.
- Dr Michelle Scoullar
- Dr Paul Agius
- Professor Catriona Bradshaw
- Professor James Beeson
- Professor Freya Fowkes
- Dr Philippe Boeuf
Meet the project team. Together, we are translating research into better health, for all.