Definition

Chorioamnionitis is an infection. It occurs in the membranes that surround the fetus. These membranes are called the chorion and the amnion. It is also an infection of the amniotic fluid. This fluid surrounds the fetus and protects it.

Chorioamnionitis can be a very serious condition. It requires special care from the doctor. A pregnant woman will need to deliver her baby right away. This is for the health of both the mother and the baby.

Birthing Complications: Intrauterine (Uterine) Infection

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Causes

Bacterial infections usually cause this condition. Infection may begin in the mother’s genital tract. Bacteria then move up from the vagina, through the cervix, and into the fetal membranes. It then moves into the amniotic sac and its fluid. There it can then pass to the fetus. Many types of bacteria may cause this infection.

Risk Factors

Chorioamnionitis is more common in young women. Other factors that can increase your chance of developing chorioamnionitis include:

    
  • Low socioeconomic status
  • First child
  • Multiple vaginal exams after rupture of the amniotic sac
  • Long labor
  • History of bacterial infection, such as group B streptococcus (GBS) and bacterial vaginosis
  • Premature rupture of membranes
  • Preterm labor
  • Symptoms

    Symptoms may include:

        
  • Fever
  • Increased heart rate in both the mother and the fetus
  • Tender uterus
  • Discharge with odor from the vagina
  • Diagnosis

    Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Your bodily fluid may need to be tested. This can be done with blood tests or amniocentesis.

    The fetal heart rate will be monitored. The heart rate will increase if the mother has an infection.

    Treatment

    Delivery

    The baby will need to be delivered. A cesarean section may be needed if:

        
  • Vaginal delivery would take too long
  • Mother shows signs of worsening illness
  • Baby shows signs of distress
  • Antibiotics

    Antibiotics will be delivered by IV into the mother's veins. The baby will get antibiotics if there is an infection present after birth.

    Prevention

    To help reduce your chance of developing chorioamnionitis, take the following steps:

        
  • Attend regular prenatal check-ups. Call your doctor if you have any questions or concerns.
  • Get tested for GBS. This routine vaginal culture is done during your 35th-37th week.
  • Take steps to prevent bacterial vaginosis. For example, practice safe sex. Do not use douches or feminine sprays.
  • Tell your doctor right away if you have premature rupture of the membranes .