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Chorioamnionitis

What is chorioamnionitis?

Chorioamnionitis is an infection of the placenta (membranes) and the amniotic fluid. Chorioamnionitis is rare. Only a small number of women will get it. Chorioamnionitis is dangerous because it can cause a blood infection in the mother called bacteremia. Bacteremia can cause the baby to come early. It can also cause a serious infection in the newborn.

Chorioamnionitis is most often caused by bacteria commonly found in the vagina. This includes Escherichia coli (E. coli) and Group B streptococcus. Chorioamnionitis happens when the amniotic sac, or membrane is broken for a long time. This allows bacteria in the vagina to move up into the uterus.

What are the symptoms of chorioamnionitis?

The symptoms of chorioamnionitis may be different for each person. Some symptoms are:

  • Fever

  • Fast heart rate in mother and baby

  • Tender or painful uterus

  • A foul smell from the amniotic fluid

The symptoms of chorioamnionitis sometimes look like other conditions or medical problems. Always see your health care provider for a diagnosis.

How is chorioamnionitis diagnosed?

Your provider will ask about your medical history and give you a physical examination. He or she may be able to diagnose chorioamnionitis just by your symptoms. You may also need a laboratory test to check for infection.

Your health care provider may suggest a test called an amniocentesis. During this test, your health care provider uses a needle to take a small amount of amniotic fluid for testing.

Treatment for chorioamnionitis

Your health care provider will figure out the best treatment for you and your baby based on:

  • Your overall health and medical history

  • How far along in your pregnancy you are

  • How sick you are

  • How well you and your baby can handle specific medications, procedures, or therapies

  • How long the condition is expected to last

  • Your opinion or preference

Antibiotics are used to treat chorioamnionitis as soon as the infection is found. Your health care provider may encourage you to deliver your baby early to prevent complications for you and your baby. You may need to keep taking antibiotics after your baby is born.

Online Medical Reviewer: MMI board-certified, academically-affiliated clinician
Online Medical Reviewer: Trevino, Heather M., BSN, RNC
Date Last Reviewed: 9/28/2014
© 2000-2014 The StayWell Company, LLC. 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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