Chorioamnionitis is a condition that can affect pregnant women. In this condition, bacteria infects the chorion and amnion (the membranes that surround the fetus) and the amniotic fluid (in which the fetus floats). This can lead to infections in both the mother and fetus. In most cases, this may mean the fetus has to be delivered as soon as possible.
Chorioamnionitis is caused by a bacterial infection that usually starts in the mother’s urogenital tract (urinary tract). Specifically, the infection can start in the vagina, anus, or rectum and move up into the uterus where the fetus is located.
Chorioamnionitis occurs in up to 2 percent of births in the United States and is one of the causes of premature delivery.
Although chorioamnionitis does not always cause symptoms, some women with the infection might have the following:
Chorioamnionitis is most often diagnosed by physical exam and discussion of the symptoms. Other clues can be found by taking a blood sample from the mother and checking for bacteria. In addition, the doctor might take samples of the amniotic fluid (the fluid around the fetus) to look for bacteria. The doctor may also use ultrasound to check on the health of the fetus.
If your doctor diagnoses chorioamnionitis, he or she may treat you with antibiotics to help treat the infection. However, often the treatment is to deliver the fetus. If the newborn has an infection, he or she will be given antibiotics as well.
If the mother has a serious case of chorioamnionitis, or if it goes untreated, she might develop complications, including:
The newborn might also have complications from a bacterial infection, including sepsis (infection of the blood), meningitis (infection of the lining of the brain and the spinal cord), and respiratory problems.
Certain factors might create a higher risk for chorioamnionitis, including:
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This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider for advice about a specific medical condition. This document was last reviewed on: 07/22/2019