Association of maternal fever during labor with neonatal and infant morbidity and mortality

Obstet Gynecol. 2001 Jul;98(1):20-7. doi: 10.1016/s0029-7844(01)01361-8.


Objective: To examine the association of intrapartum fever with infant morbidity and early neonatal (0-6 days) and infant (0-364 days) death.

Methods: We carried out a retrospective cohort analysis among singleton live births in the United States for the period 1995-1997 using the National Center for Health Statistics linked birth-infant death cohort data.

Results: Among the 11,246,042 singleton live births during the study period, intrapartum fever (at least 38C) was recorded in 1.6%. Intrapartum fever was associated with early neonatal (adjusted odds ratio [OR], 95% confidence interval [CI] for preterm and term infants respectively: 1.32; 1.11, 1.56 and 1.67; 1.14, 2.46) and infant (OR, 95% CI for preterm and term, respectively: 1.31; 1.14, 1.51 and 1.27; 1.01, 1.59) death among nulliparous mothers. Among preterm infants of parous mothers, intrapartum fever was associated with early neonatal (OR 1.29, 95% CI 1.01, 1.64) death. In the combined analyses (infants of nulliparous and parous mothers), intrapartum fever was a strong predictor of infection-related death. These associations were stronger among term (OR 3.16, 95% CI 1.56, 6.40 for early neonatal; OR 1.75, 95% CI 1.20, 2.57 for infant death) than preterm infants (OR 1.52, 95% CI 1.15, 2.00 for early neonatal; OR 1.29, 95% CI 1.05, 1.57 for infant death). Intrapartum fever was also a risk factor for meconium aspiration syndrome, hyaline membrane disease, neonatal seizures, and assisted ventilation.

Conclusion: Intrapartum fever is an important predictor of neonatal morbidity and infection-related mortality.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Fever*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Newborn, Diseases / etiology*
  • Infant, Newborn, Diseases / mortality*
  • Obstetric Labor Complications*
  • Odds Ratio
  • Pregnancy
  • Regression Analysis
  • Retrospective Studies
  • United States / epidemiology