Many women delivering preterm infants at less than 30 weeks gestation have subclinical chorioamnionitis. Based on current guidelines, maternal glucocorticoid treatment is given to induce lung maturation. Fetal exposure to proinflammation can cause acute and chronic injury, but inflammation also can induce fetal lung maturation. Both antenatal glucocorticoids and inflammation modulate lung development, by inducing the surfactant system, inducing structural maturation, and inhibiting alveolarization. The opportunities for the future are to develop new safer strategies to mature the preterm foetus, and the risks are potential adverse interactions of repetitive glucocorticoid exposures and unrecognized fetal exposure to inflammation.
Copyright 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd.