By Dr. Brian McDonough, Medical Editor

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – There was a very interesting study conducted at Stanford University and it reinforces why getting early and consistent medical care during pregnancy can help your unborn baby.

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According to the report, infections may play a bigger role in premature birth than doctors have thought.

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In the study one in seven women in pre-term labor was suffering from an infection at the time. These were bacterial or fungal infections that can linger as a result of not being detected soon enough.

The concern is when infectious agents can enter the amniotic fluid. The more heavily infected the amniotic fluid, the more likely a woman is to deliver a younger, sicker baby.

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Certain infections, such as vaginal or urinary tract infections, are known to raise the risk of premature birth. It is important to get care during pregnancy.