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Researchers at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, found that placenta, which was thought to be sterile, harbors bacteria. They found that the placental microbiome was most similar to that present in the mouth of non-pregnant women. The microbes are generally non-pathogenic, but variations in their composition could prompt the understanding of pregnancy disorders such as preterm birth, which occurs in one out of every ten pregnancies. The team is now studying how women’s microbial communities change during pregnancy and to identify women at risk of preterm birth and develop ways to prevent it.

Read more in Nature

doi:10.1038/nature.2014.15274

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