Human parturition is an inflammatory event, modulated and influenced by a host of other environmental and physiological processes, including the endocrine hormones. Complex bidirectional communication occurs between the two systems to bring about some of the changes that are seen in labour, an event that is not yet fully understood. Preterm birth is a major problem in obstetrics and neonatology, with dysfunctional labour or prolonged pregnancy also making increasingly significant contributions to maternal morbidity. With better understanding of normal and abnormal parturition we may be able to develop novel ways of treating these complications of pregnancy and reduce maternal and neonatal morbidity and mortality. This review discusses the crucial role that endocrine-immune interaction plays in the process of labour and in the processes of abnormal and preterm labour. We propose that amongst these complex interactions it is the immune system that is the driving force behind human parturition.
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