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Biol Neonate. 2003;83(2):85-96.

Chorioamnionitis: a risk factor for fetal and neonatal morbidity.

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Department of Pediatrics, Obstetrics and Reproductive Medicine, University of Siena, Italy.


Despite widespread use of drugs to arrest preterm labor, there has been no decrease in the numbers of low-birth-weight or preterm infants in the last 20 years. Evidence from many sources links preterm birth to symptomatic and subclinical infections. Recently, an increasing body of evidence has suggested that not only is subclinical infection responsible for preterm birth but also for many serious neonatal sequelae, including periventricular leukomalacia, cerebral palsy, respiratory distress and even bronchopulmonary dysplasia and necrotizing enterocolitis. Proxies of intrauterine infection include clinical chorioamnionitis, histological chorioamnionitis and intraamniotic increase in cytokines, which have been found to be associated with acute neonatal morbidity and mortality and, at least to some degree, with neurological impairment, chronic lung disease and thymus involution in the preterm infant. The infectious/inflammatory mechanisms involved are not fully understood, and the types of microbes and genetic features of host adaptive and innate immune responses need to be better characterized.

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