Objective: The objective of this study was to determine the frequency and clinical significance of a systemic inflammatory response as defined by an elevated plasma interleukin-6 concentration in fetuses with preterm labor or preterm premature rupture of membranes.
Study design: Amniocenteses and cordocenteses were performed in 157 patients with preterm labor and preterm premature rupture of membranes. Written informed consent and multi-institutional review board approvals were obtained. Amniotic fluid was cultured for aerobic and anaerobic bacteria, as well as mycoplasmas. Amniotic fluid and fetal plasma interleukin-6 concentrations were measured with a sensitive and specific immunoassay. Statistical analyses included contingency tables, receiver operating characteristic curve analysis, and multiple logistic regression.
Results: One hundred five patients with preterm labor and 52 patients with preterm premature rupture of membranes were included in this study. The overall prevalence of severe neonatal morbidity (defined as the presence of respiratory distress syndrome, suspected or proved neonatal sepsis, pneumonia, bronchopulmonary dysplasia. intraventricular hemorrhage, periventricular leukomalacia, or necrotizing enterocolitis) among survivors was 34.8% (54/155). Neonates in whom severe neonatal morbidity developed had higher concentrations of fetal plasma interleukin-6 than fetuses without development of severe neonatal morbidity (median 14.0 pg/mL, range 0.5 to 900 vs median 5.2 pg/mL, range 0.3 to 900, respectively; P < .005). Multivariate analysis was performed to explore the relationship between the presence of a systemic fetal inflammatory response and subsequent neonatal outcome. To preserve a meaningful temporal relationship between the results of fetal plasma interleukin-6 concentrations and the occurrence of severe neonatal morbidity, the analysis was restricted to 73 fetuses delivered within 7 days of cordocentesis who survived. The prevalence of severe neonatal morbidity in this subset of patients was 53.4% (39/73). A fetal plasma interleukin-6 cutoff value of 11 pg/mL was used to define the presence of a systemic inflammatory response. The prevalence of a fetal plasma interleukin-6 level > 11 pg/mL was 49.3% (36/73). Fetuses with fetal plasma interleukin-6 concentrations > 11 pg/mL had a higher rate of severe neonatal morbidity than did those with fetal plasma interleukin-6 levels < or = 11 pg/mL (77.8% [28/36] vs 29.7% [11/37], respectively; P < .001). Stepwise logistic regression analysis demonstrated that the fetal plasma interleukin-6 concentration was an independent predictor of the occurrence of severe neonatal morbidity (odds ratio 4.3, 95% confidence interval 1 to 18.5) when adjusted for gestational age at delivery, the cause of preterm delivery (preterm labor or preterm premature rupture of membranes), clinical chorioamnionitis, the cordocentesis-to-delivery interval, amniotic fluid culture, and amniotic fluid interleukin-6 results.
Conclusion: A systemic fetal inflammatory response, as determined by an elevated fetal plasma interleukin-6 value, is an independent risk factor for the occurrence of severe neonatal morbidity.