Recent evidence points to an association between intrauterine infection and cerebral palsy (CP) in the preterm as well as the term infant. The mechanisms that link these two conditions are unclear. Chorioamnionitis is a common clinical problem complicating 5-10% of pregnancies, whereas the incidence of CP attributed to intrapartum asphyxia is rare. Chorioamnionitis may result in brain injury as a result of interruption of placental blood flow (asphyxia), or via fever and/ or the cytokine release associated with infection. This review will attempt to establish the link between perinatal infection and brain damage in term infants. The characteristics of the perinatal inflammatory response, the potential mechanisms of brain injury associated with infection, and the clinical characteristics of neonatal encephalopathy will be discussed.
Copyright 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.