Objective: To determine if an intrauterine sub-clinical inflammatory process is a risk factor for the development of bronchopulmonary dysplasia.
Methods: A cohort study was conducted in patients who met the following criteria: (1) Singleton gestation; (2) preterm labor or preterm premature rupture of the membranes; (3) amniocentesis for microbiologic studies of the amniotic fluid and (4) delivery between 24 and 28 weeks of gestation. Bronchopulmonary dysplasia was defined as the need for supplemental oxygen for 28 days or longer after birth, associated with compatible chest radiographic findings. Amniotic fluid interleukin-8, was measured using a specific immunoassay. Logistic regression analysis and bootstrap procedure were used for statistical purposes.
Results: Forty-seven patients met the inclusion criteria for this study. Among these patients, the prevalence of bronchopulmonary dysplasia was 23.4% (11/47). Amniotic fluid culture was positive in 21 out of 47 (44.7%) patients. Median (range) amniotic fluid interleukin-8 concentration was higher in patients whose neonates subsequently developed bronchopulmonary dysplasia than in those who did not (17 [9.8-583.7] ng ml(-1) versus 9.6 [0.91-744] ng ml(-1), P=0.057). An amniotic fluid IL-8 level greater than 11.5 ng ml(-1) was far more common in mothers whose fetuses went on to develop bronchopulmonary dysplasia than in those who did not (10/11 [90.9%] versus 17/36 [47%]; P=0.01). This relationship remained significant even after correcting for the effect of gestational age and birthweight (Odds ratio: 11.9; P<0.05).
Conclusion: Sub-clinical intrauterine inflammation is a risk factor for the subsequent development of bronchopulmonary dysplasia. We propose that in utero aspiration of fluid with high concentration of pro-inflammatory mediators may contribute to the lung injury responsible for the development of bronchopulmonary dysplasia.