Pulmonary morbidity in infancy after exposure to chorioamnionitis in late preterm infants

Karen M. McDowell, Alan H. Jobe, Matthew Fenchel, William D. Hardie, Tate Gisslen, Lisa R. Young, Claire A. Chougnet, Stephanie D. Davis, Suhas G. Kallapur

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Rationale: Chorioamnionitis is an important cause of preterm birth, but its impact on postnatal outcomes is understudied. Objectives: To evaluate whether fetal exposure to inflammation is associated with adverse pulmonary outcomes at 6 to 12 months' chronological age in infants born moderate to late preterm. Methods: Infants born between 32 and 36 weeks' gestational age were prospectively recruited (N = 184). Chorioamnionitis was diagnosed by placenta and umbilical cord histology. Select cytokines were measured in samples of cord blood. Validated pulmonary questionnaires were administered (n = 184), and infant pulmonary function testing was performed (n = 69) between 6 and 12 months' chronological age by the raised volume rapid thoracoabdominal compression technique. Measurements and Main Results: A total of 25% of participants had chorioamnionitis. Although infant pulmonary function testing variables were lower in infants born preterm compared with historical normative data for term infants, there were no differences between infants with chorioamnionitis (n = 20) and those without (n = 49). Boys and black infants had lower infant pulmonary function testing measurements than girls and white infants, respectively. Chorioamnionitis exposure was associated independently with wheeze (odds ratio [OR], 2.08) and respiratory-related physician visits (OR, 3.18) in the first year of life. Infants exposed to severe chorioamnionitis had increased levels of cord blood IL-6 and greater pulmonary morbidity at age 6 to 12 months than those exposed to mild chorioamnionitis. Elevated IL-6 was associated with significantly more respiratory problems (OR, 3.23). Conclusions: In infants born moderate or late preterm, elevated cord blood IL-6 and exposure to histologically identified chorioamnionitis was associated with respiratory morbidity during infancy without significant changes in infant pulmonary function testing measurements. Black compared with white and boy compared with girl infants had lower infant pulmonary function testing measurements and worse pulmonary outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)867-876
Number of pages10
JournalAnnals of the American Thoracic Society
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2016
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Supported by National Institutes of Health grant R01 HL97064 (A.H.J., S.G.K.). REDCap technology was provided through National Center for Research Resources/National Institutes of Health Center for Clinical and Translational Science and Training grant UL1-RR026314-01.

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2016 by the American Thoracic Society.


  • Asthma
  • Fetal inflammation
  • Fetal programming
  • Infant pulmonary function test
  • Wheeze


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