The rate of preterm birth has been increasing in the United States for unknown reasons, causing increased health risks for infants born too soon. But researchers may have found a signal that could help doctors plan ahead for, or even prevent, early birth with a simple swab of the vagina and cervix during pregnancy.

In 2015, 10% of infants were born premature, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the annual report card from the March of Dimes says that the US “has taken a step backward, as the nation’s preterm birth rate worsened for the first time in eight years.”… more

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