Background: Preterm birth (PTB) is a leading cause of neonatal mortality and longer-term morbidity. Acute chorioamnionitis (ACA) is a common cause of PTB, however, there are limited data on the prevalence of ACA and its association with PTB in resource limited settings.
Methods: Data and samples came from a clinical trial evaluating novel strategies for the prevention of malaria in HIV infected pregnant women in Uganda. Women were enrolled between 12-28 weeks of gestation and followed through delivery. For each placenta delivered, three placental tissue types (membrane roll, umbilical cord and chorionic plate/villous parenchyma) were collected. Slides were assessed for diagnosis of maternal and fetal ACA by microscopic evaluation of neutrophilic infiltration using a standardized grading scale. The primary outcomes were PTB (<37 weeks), low birth weight (LBW, <2500 grams), and small-for-gestational age (SGA, birth weight <10th percentile for age). Univariate and multivariate logistic regression were used to estimate associations between 1) maternal characteristics (age, education, wealth, gravidity, gestational age at enrollment, placental malaria, anti-malarial prophylaxis treatment regimen, HIV disease parameters) and ACA, and 2) associations between ACA and adverse birth outcomes.
Findings: A total of 193 placentas were included in the analysis. The prevalence of maternal and fetal ACA was 44.5% and 28.0%, respectively. HIV infected women between 28-43 years of age had a higher risk of maternal ACA compared to those between 17-21 years of age (50.9% vs. 19.1%; aOR = 4.00 (1.10-14.5), p = 0.04) and the diagnosis of severe maternal ACA was associated with a significantly higher risk of PTB (28.6% vs. 6.0%; aOR = 6.04 (1.87-19.5), p = 0.003), LBW (33.3% vs. 9.4%; aOR = 4.86 (1.65-14.3); p = 0.004), and SGA (28.6% vs. 10.1%; aOR = 3.70 (1.20-11.4), p = 0.02). No maternal characteristics were significantly associated with fetal ACA and the diagnosis of fetal ACA was not associated with adverse birth outcomes.
Conclusions: Histological evidence of severe maternal ACA was associated with an increased risk of PTB, LBW, and SGA in HIV infected, pregnant Ugandan women.