Antenatal infection and inflammation: what's new?

Curr Opin Infect Dis. 2006 Jun;19(3):253-8. doi: 10.1097/01.qco.0000224819.42729.2e.


Purpose of review: Recently antenatal infection and inflammation have received significant attention because of their potential role in promoting premature labour and in causing morbidity in preterm infants including the development of chronic lung disease of prematurity and cerebral white matter changes. This review highlights recent developments in this field.

Recent findings: Recent reports have improved our understanding of the inflammatory responses to antenatal infection although questions remain about the exact relationship between antenatal infection and inflammation. Although microbial invasion of the intrauterine cavity is confirmed, strategies to prevent onset of premature labour have not been successful. The association between antenatal infection and development of chronic lung disease has been confirmed and many mechanisms further explored for development of chronic lung disease and cerebral white matter changes. Ureaplasma species have been revisited for their role in both preterm labour and neonatal morbidity, especially as modern molecular methods have eased their identification.

Summary: Antenatal infection and inflammation are strongly implicated in the pathogenesis of preterm labour and in the development of neonatal morbidity, specifically chronic lung disease and white matter damage. Ureaplasma species are being increasingly studied for their role in these disorders. The challenge is to develop effective therapies to prevent these conditions.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Inflammation / immunology
  • Inflammation / microbiology*
  • Male
  • Obstetric Labor, Premature / microbiology
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious / immunology
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious / microbiology
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious / pathology*
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / congenital
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / immunology
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / microbiology
  • Ureaplasma / growth & development