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Chorioamnionitis(Amnionitis; Chorioamnion Infection; Intra-amniotic Infection)

Pronounced: Cho-ri-O-am-NI-o-ni-tis

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:

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 .

RESOURCES:

American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
http://www.acog.org

American Pregnancy Association
http://americanpregnancy.org

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

Health Canada
http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca

The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada
http://www.sogc.org

References:

Alanen A. Polymerase chain reaction in the detection of microbes in amniotic fluid. Ann Med . 1998;30:288-295.

Bacterial vaginosis (BV). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php . Updated June 10, 2013. Accessed June 26, 2013.

Bacterial vaginosis—CDC fact sheet. Centers for Disease Control website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/std/BV/STDFact-Bacterial-Vaginosis.htm . Updated September 1, 2010. Accessed June 26, 2013.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Prevention of perinatal group B streptococcal disease. MMWR . 2002;51:13-15.

Chorioamnionitis. Cleveland Clinic Health Information Center website. Available at: http://www.clevelandclinic.org/health/health-info/docs/3800/3857.asp?index=12309 . Accessed June 26, 2013.

Churgay CA, Smith MA, Blok B. Maternal fever during labor—what does it mean? J Am Board Fam Pract . 1994;7:14-24.

Edwards RK. Chorioamnionitis and labor. Obstet Gynecol Clin North Am . 2005;32:287-296.

Greenwald J. Premature rupture of the membranes: diagnostic and management strategies. Am Fam Physician 1993.

Protect your baby from group B strep. Centers for Disease Control website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/features/groupbstrep . Updated November 27, 2012. Accessed June 26, 2013.

Use of prophylactic antibiotics in labor and delivery. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Practice Bulletin No. 120 . June 2011.

Wellbery C. Neonate CBC and maternal chorioamnionitis. Am Fam Physician . 2005.



Last reviewed May 2014 by Andrea Chisholm, MD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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