Pulmonary Morbidity in Infancy after Exposure to Chorioamnionitis in Late Preterm Infants

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Chorioamnionitis is an important cause of preterm birth, but its impact on postnatal outcomes is understudied.


To evaluate whether fetal exposure to inflammation is associated with adverse pulmonary outcomes at 6 to 12 months' chronological age in infants born moderate to late preterm.


Infants born between 32 and 36 weeks' gestational age were prospectively recruited (N = 184). Chorioamnionitis was diagnosed by placenta and umbilical cord histology. Select cytokines were measured in samples of cord blood. Validated pulmonary questionnaires were administered (n = 184), and infant pulmonary function testing was performed (n = 69) between 6 and 12 months' chronological age by the raised volume rapid thoracoabdominal compression technique.

Measurements and Main Results:

A total of 25% of participants had chorioamnionitis. Although infant pulmonary function testing variables were lower in infants born preterm compared with historical normative data for term infants, there were no differences between infants with chorioamnionitis (n = 20) and those without (n = 49). Boys and black infants had lower infant pulmonary function testing measurements than girls and white infants, respectively. Chorioamnionitis exposure was associated independently with wheeze (odds ratio [OR], 2.08) and respiratory-related physician visits (OR, 3.18) in the first year of life. Infants exposed to severe chorioamnionitis had increased levels of cord blood IL-6 and greater pulmonary morbidity at age 6 to 12 months than those exposed to mild chorioamnionitis. Elevated IL-6 was associated with significantly more respiratory problems (OR, 3.23).


In infants born moderate or late preterm, elevated cord blood IL-6 and exposure to histologically identified chorioamnionitis was associated with respiratory morbidity during infancy without significant changes in infant pulmonary function testing measurements. Black compared with white and boy compared with girl infants had lower infant pulmonary function testing measurements and worse pulmonary outcomes.

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