Chorioamnionitis and Villitis Infections

Chorioamnionitis and Villitis

Chorioamnionitis

The chorion and the amnion are the membranes that surround and protect the baby in the womb. When these membranes become infected, along with the amniotic fluid and/or the umbilical cord, the condition is called chorioamnionitis. This usually occurs when bacteria from the vagina, cervix, or colon travel to the uterine cavity. Although bacterial ascension can occur with membranes intact, it is usually precipitated by prolonged labor and membrane rupture.

Infectious organisms can be introduced into the womb via amniocentesis or chorionic villous sampling. Consequently, when a bacterial infection infects the chorioamion or umbilical cord during the pregnancy, the mother’s immune system can initiate an inflammatory response, which in turn can lead to the release of prostaglandin, a hormone that may induce labor and result in premature delivery.

Chorioamnionitis can cause a baby to suffer from meningitis, sepsis, periventricular leukomalacia (PVL), and seizures. These conditions may subsequently result in permanent birth injuries, including cerebral palsy and other developmental disabilities.

Villitis

Villitis refers to the inflammation of the surface of the placenta, the tissue which is responsible for the nutrient and gas exchange between the blood of the fetus and the mother. The risk of serious fetal injury and death is significant when this condition exists. Villitis is frequently associated with long-term chorioamnionitis. Viral causes of villitis include toxoplasmosis, herpes, rubella, syphilis, and cytomegalovirus.

Diagnosis and Treatment

As with any infection, rapid recognition and diagnosis is critical to preventing a poor outcome. This can be difficult, however, as some women have no signs or symptoms. Potential complications include:

  • intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR)
  • premature birth
  • hydrops fetalis (fluid build-up in the fetus)
  • neonatal sepsis
  • hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE)
  • premature rupture of membranes (PROM)
  • periventricular leukomalacia (PVL)
  • encephalopathy
  • neurological impairment
  • meningitis
  • cerebral palsy

A fever in the mother is the most important clinical symptom of infection. Other signs include appearing ill, sweating profusely, foul-smelling vaginal discharge, significantly rapid heart rate, or a high white blood cell count. In the absence of symptoms, but when risk factors are present, doctors must be vigilant in monitoring for these devastating infections. Risk factors include:

  • premature labor
  • prolonged labor
  • rupture of membranes
  • fetal monitoring during labor
  • obesity
  • incompetent cervix
  • infections, such as including urinary tract infections (UTI)
  • bacterial vaginosis (BV)
  • ureaplasma
  • merconium in the amniotic fluid
  • smoking, drug, and alcohol use

Once chorioamnionitis or villitis is diagnosed, prompt administration of antibiotics is necessary to prevent both fetal and maternal complications. A C-section may be required if the fetus fails to progress through the birth canal. Supportive care may include the use of acetaminophen, which is essential during delivery as it can prevent neonatal encephalopathy.

Your Expectations

You are relying on the medical professionals you have selected to protect both your life and the life of your unborn baby as they monitor your pregnancy and provide care and advice. Because they are highly trained and armed with both knowledge and experience, it is reasonable to expect they will do all they can to ensure your pregnancy proceeds without complications.

When your physician or the hospital staff fails to recognize a dangerous infection, it can result in life-long debilitation or the death of your baby, as well as serious complications for you. This is negligence, and you have every right to seek compensation for incompetent care.

We’re Here to Help

At Thurswell Law, we understand how devastating a birth injury or the loss of a baby can be. We also know that long-term care is costly, and your family should not have to suffer financially. Call us at 248-354-2222 for your free consultation. We have over 48 years of experience in Michigan birth injury cases, and we will work diligently to get monetary compensation for you and your family. No fee unless we collect.

(248) 354-2222

1000 Town Center, Suite 500
Southfield, MI 48075

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