Maternal, umbilical cord and neonatal inflammatory and haematological markers in histologic chorioamnionitis

Rebecca Howman

    Research output: ThesisMaster's Thesis

    263 Downloads (Pure)


    [Truncated abstract] Fetal inflammatory response syndrome (FIRS) has only recently been recognised as an important cause of spontaneous preterm delivery (PTD). In addition, it has been associated with a number of other short-term and long-term adverse neonatal outcomes, including early onset neonatal sepsis, necrotising enterocolitis, periventricular leucomalacia, cerebral palsy, and bronchopulmonary dysplasia, although the causal mechanisms are unclear. The hallmark of FIRS is histologic chorioamnionitis (HCA). Mothers with HCA are often asymptomatic and it remains unclear whether elevated maternal inflammatory markers, such as C-reactive protein (CRP) and procalcitonin (PCT), are predictive of preterm birth. Furthermore neonatal inflammatory markers such as CRP, PCT, white cell count (WCC) and absolute neutrophil count (ANC), are commonly used in clinical practice to diagnose infection in the neonatal period. Although both intrauterine inflammation and FIRS may have effects on inflammatory markers for up to 10 days following delivery, the extent to which intrauterine infection and FIRS confound these diagnostic surrogates of neonatal infection is unknown. This work addressed the hypothesis that HCA is associated with inflammatory changes that may be detected in the: (a) maternal circulation at the time of delivery, (b) umbilical cord blood at delivery and (c) post-natal circulation within the first 48 hours of life. The primary aim of this study was to investigate the relationship between the presence of HCA and maternal inflammatory markers (serum CRP and PCT on the day of delivery) as well as neonatal inflammatory markers (haematological parameters, CRP and PCT up to 48 hours following delivery). ... Cord platelet counts were likely affected by platelet activation. For both intra-rater and inter-rater reproducibility, the corrected WCC, ANC and NRBC were shown to be reliable with an ICC of >0.90 for all comparisons. However, I:T ratio was poorly reproducible. HCA appears to be a minor inflammatory insult for the mother. In the majority of cases it is asymptomatic and results in minor increases in PCT and CRP levels on the day of delivery. Conversely HCA results in significant inflammatory changes in the newborn that can be seen in the cord blood. Sensitive markers of inflammation in the cord blood are significantly higher in affected infants (CRP and PCT), while less sensitive markers, such as WCC and ANC are not significantly different. This study has shown that fetal inflammation has sustained effects on CRP and haematological parameters in early neonatal life; CRP, WCC and ANC are significantly higher in newborns exposed to HCA, peaking 24 hours following delivery. These effects may confound the interpretation of common diagnostic tests for early onset neonatal sepsis. Conclusion: HCA results in mild elevations in CRP and PCT in the cord blood. Over the subsequent 24 hours CRP, WCC and ANC increase significantly in these neonates. Intrauterine exposure to HCA may influence surrogate diagnostic markers for early onset sepsis in newborn infants. Future research to investigate novel diagnostic markers, such as CD64 and soluble triggering receptor expressed on myeloid cells (TREM-1), or enhanced microbiological molecular diagnosis, will help distinguish true invasive infection from HCA-driven inflammation in the newborn infant.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusUnpublished - 2009


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