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HPV vaccine may prevent preterm births
Date:3/17/2009

Chronic human papilloma virus (HPV)-infections can lead to cellular changes in the cervix that can be a pre-stage to cervical cancer. Surgical treatment of these pre-stages gives an increased risk of preterm birth in subsequent pregnancies. As the HPV-vaccine can prevent pre-stages of cervical cancer, it may therefore reduce the number of preterm births. A new Norwegian study has calculated the benefits of HPV-vaccination.

Cervical cancer development is a step-wise process that begins with minor cell changes caused by HPV infection. Cellular changes can progress and become more serious. Long-term, they can cause cervical cancer if untreated. Serious cellular changes are treated by surgically removing a part of the cervix (conisation). This gynaecological procedure gives an increased risk of a woman giving birth preterm in subsequent pregnancies.

In a newly published study in Acta Obstretica et Gynecologica, Katrine D. Sjborg and Anne Eskild calculated how many preterm deliveries could be avoided by systematic HPV-vaccination. Sjborg is a consultant at stfold Hospital and Eskild is based at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health and Akershus University Hospital.

Calculations in the study are based on the following parameters:

  • proportion of pregnant women treated with conisation
  • proportion with preterm births among women who have had conisation compared those who have not had conisation
  • proportion of conisations that can be prevented by HPV-vaccination
  • proportion of fertile women who are HPV-vaccinated

Benefits of HPV-vaccination

In the study, figures from Europe and North-America are used. The results suggest that if 2 % of pregnant women are treated with conisation, between 60 and 220 preterm births per 100 000 births could be caused by surgical treatment. Nearly 60 % of these may be prevented by the HPV-vaccine, assuming that vaccination coverage is 90 %.
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Contact: Julie Johansen
julie.johansen@fhi.no
Norwegian Institute of Public Health
Source:Eurekalert

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