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Infectious Diseases in Obstetrics and Gynecology
Volume 3, Issue 1, Pages 37-44
Review Article

Intrauterine Infection and Preterm Labor

Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences, University of Texas Medical School at Houston, 6431 Fannin, Suite 3.204, Houston, TX 77030, USA

Received 20 June 1994; Accepted 19 October 1994

Copyright © 1995 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Preterm birth remains the leading cause of perinatal mortality and morbidity. Evidence suggests that intrauterine infection plays an important role in the pathogenesis of preterm labor. This article reviews the clinical data supporting this theory and the cellular and biochemical mechanisms by which intrauterine infection may initiate uterine contractions. The clinical and laboratory methods of diagnosing clinical chorioamnionitis and asymptomatic bacterial invasion of the intraamniotic cavity are also reviewed. Finally, the management of clinical chorioamnionitis and asymptomatic microbial invasion of the amniotic fluid and the use of adjunctive antibiotic therapy in the treatment of preterm labor are presented.