We have trillions of bacteria, or microbes, in and on our bodies all the time. Many microbes are helpful, like the bacteria in our digestive tracts, which break down food. However, others can make us ill or more susceptible to disease. We, as scientists, doctors and healthcare providers, are trying to figure out how different kinds of microbes can lead to healthy pregnancies and deliveries as well as how they contribute to complications like early labor and delivery. Babies get their first microbes from their mothers. Understanding what microbes are present will provide information to give babies a healthier start in life!
Briefly, the study involved following the microbes of pregnant women throughout pregnancy and a little while after childbirth. Participants were asked to provide samples from the mouth, skin, vagina and rectum. At select visits, participants were also asked to provide blood and urine samples. Women who enrolled answered questions about their health and other activities throughout the study. We also collected samples from both mothers and infants at birth and before discharge. More than 200,000 samples were collected through this project.
The Multi-Omic Microbiome Study-Pregnancy Initiative (MOMS-PI) is a collaborative project with the Global Alliance to Prevent Prematurity and Stillbirth (GAPPS) and was funded by the NIH Roadmap Human Microbiome Project. Together, we are committed to understanding the impact of the vaginal microbiome on pregnancy, pregnancy-related complications and the impact on the infant microbiome. Preterm birth is the leading cause of death in neonates, thus our efforts are largely focused on assessing the role of the microbiome on preterm birth and maternal-infant health.
MOMS-PI is a multifaceted initiative that generated large and comprehensive datasets using several "omics" technologies: 1) 16S rRNA amplicon sequencing, 2) metagenome sequencing, 3) metatranscriptome sequencing, 4) metabolomics/lipidomics and 5) immunoproteomics/cytokine assays. Samples were collected throughout the course of pregnancy from a cohort of more than 1,500 women. Omics data generated from ~12,000 samples is avaiable through the HMP Data Coordination Center. We believe this large-scale, innovative effort will continue to lead to insights into how the microbiome impacts risk for preterm birth and the temporal dynamics of the pregnancy microbiome. Our analyses of these data is ongoing.