The vaginal microbiome during pregnancy and the postpartum period in a European population

David A. MacIntyre*, Manju Chandiramani, Yun S. Lee, Lindsay Kindinger, Ann Smith, Nicos Angelopoulos, Benjamin Lehne, Shankari Arulkumaran, Richard Brown, Tiong Ghee Teoh, Elaine Holmes, Jeremy K. Nicoholson, Julian R. Marchesi, Phillip R. Bennett

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Article peer-review

401 Scopus citations


The composition and structure of the pregnancy vaginal microbiome may influence susceptibility to adverse pregnancy outcomes. Studies on the pregnant vaginal microbiome have largely been limited to Northern American populations. Using MiSeq sequencing of 16S rRNA gene amplicons, we characterised the vaginal microbiota of a mixed British cohort of women (n = 42) who experienced uncomplicated term delivery and who were sampled longitudinally throughout pregnancy (8-12, 20-22, 28-30 and 34-36 weeks gestation) and 6 weeks postpartum. We show that vaginal microbiome composition dramatically changes postpartum to become less Lactobacillus spp. dominant with increased alpha-diversity irrespective of the community structure during pregnancy and independent of ethnicity. While the pregnancy vaginal microbiome was characteristically dominated by Lactobacillus spp. and low alpha-diversity, unlike Northern American populations, a significant number of pregnant women this British population had a L. jensenii-dominated microbiome characterised by low alpha-diversity. L. jensenii was predominantly observed in women of Asian and Caucasian ethnicity whereas L. gasseri was absent in samples from Black women. This study reveals new insights into biogeographical and ethnic effects upon the pregnancy and postpartum vaginal microbiome and has important implications for future studies exploring relationships between the vaginal microbiome, host health and pregnancy outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8988
JournalScientific Reports
StatePublished - 11 03 2015
Externally publishedYes

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© 2015, Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved.


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