Perinatal morbidity and mortality related to gestational infection. The histological identification of chorioamnionitis and its incidence in the population studied.

P Borralho, F Cunha, M Pinto, A T da Silva, M Meirinho


Infection of the embryo and foetus remains a major public health problem. It has been widely accepted as a major cause of spontaneous abortion, premature birth and morbidity and mortality of the newborn. Furthermore, many studies stress the role of chorioamnionitis in the onset of premature labor. We have found a significant incidence of chorioamnionitis in placentas examined in our laboratory, but we do not know the real prevalence of intra amniotic infection and the magnitude of its consequences. Furthermore, there is no data concerning the micro-organisms that can act as pathogens in our patients. The aim of this study was to better define the role of infection in pregnancy in our hospital. As a first approach we studied all the placentas that were sent to the Histopathology Department during 1993, trying to correlate histological findings with clinical data. We found that 38% of 280 placentas had histological criteria for chorioamnionitis, 33% of which were associated with fetal death. Only 13% of these cases had clinical signs of infection. These facts stress the need for a sensitive and selective method of identifying organisms that act as pathogens in intrauterine infection. It may be possible to prevent some of its complications if an earlier diagnosis and identification of the agent are done.

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