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Journal of Pregnancy
Volume 2013, Article ID 412831, 11 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2013/412831
Review Article

The Consequences of Chorioamnionitis: Preterm Birth and Effects on Development

1The Ritchie Centre, Monash Institute of Medical Research, Monash University, P.O. Box 5418, Clayton, VIC 3168, Australia
2Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Monash University, Clayton, VIC 3168, Australia
3Department of Anatomy and Developmental Biology, Monash University, Clayton, VIC 3800, Australia

Received 29 October 2012; Revised 28 January 2013; Accepted 10 February 2013

Academic Editor: Jeffrey Keelan

Copyright © 2013 Robert Galinsky et al. 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.

Abstract

Preterm birth is a major cause of perinatal mortality and long-term morbidity. Chorioamnionitis is a common cause of preterm birth. Clinical chorioamnionitis, characterised by maternal fever, leukocytosis, tachycardia, uterine tenderness, and preterm rupture of membranes, is less common than subclinical/histologic chorioamnionitis, which is asymptomatic and defined by inflammation of the chorion, amnion, and placenta. Chorioamnionitis is often associated with a fetal inflammatory response. The fetal inflammatory response syndrome (FIRS) is defined by increased systemic inflammatory cytokine concentrations, funisitis, and fetal vasculitis. Clinical and epidemiological studies have demonstrated that FIRS leads to poor cardiorespiratory, neurological, and renal outcomes. These observations are further supported by experimental studies that have improved our understanding of the mechanisms responsible for these outcomes. This paper outlines clinical and experimental studies that have improved our current understanding of the mechanisms responsible for chorioamnionitis-induced preterm birth and explores the cellular and physiological mechanisms underlying poor cardiorespiratory, neural, retinal, and renal outcomes observed in preterm infants exposed to chorioamnionitis.