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Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2011 Sep 1;52(10):7052-8. doi: 10.1167/iovs.11-7380.

Placenta microbiology and histology and the risk for severe retinopathy of prematurity.

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Division of Newborn Medicine, Floating Hospital for Children at Tufts Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts 02111-1526, USA.



To test the hypothesis that the presence of bacteria and/or histologic inflammation in the placenta of infants born preterm is associated with an increased risk for severe retinopathy of prematurity (ROP).


This was a prospective cohort study. Exploratory and multivariable data analyses were used, including logistic regression models with interaction terms. Main outcomes were four definitions of severe ROP: stage 3 or higher, any ROP in zone I, prethreshold/threshold, and plus disease.


Individually, placenta bacteria and histologic inflammation were not associated with severe ROP in univariable analyses among 1064 infants with gestational age <28 weeks or among 715 infants with gestational age <27 weeks (we excluded infants with a gestational age of 27 weeks because of the very small number of ROP cases). However, the co-occurrence of bacteria and inflammation was associated with an increased risk for ROP in zone I (odds ratio, 3.1; 95% confidence interval, 1.02-9.5). Among 339 infants with any placental bacteria, the co-occurrence of (1) inflammation and a gestational age of 23 to 24 weeks and (2) inflammation and hyperoxia were associated with prominent increases in risk for all definitions of severe ROP.


While antenatal exposure to infection or inflammation alone does not appear to convey risk information for severe ROP, their co-occurrence does. This finding supports the hypothesis that a fetal inflammatory response to antenatal infection might be part of the etiology of severe ROP.

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