Semin Reprod Med 2007; 25(1): 021-039
DOI: 10.1055/s-2006-956773
Copyright © 2007 by Thieme Publishers, Inc., 333 Seventh Avenue, New York, NY 10001, USA.

The Role of Inflammation and Infection in Preterm Birth

Roberto Romero1 , 2 , Jimmy Espinoza1 , 3 , Luís F. Gonçalves1 , 3 , Juan Pedro Kusanovic1 , Lara Friel3 , Sonia Hassan1 , 3
  • 1Perinatology Research Branch, National Instituted of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, Bethesda, Maryland, and Detroit, Michigan
  • 2Center for Molecular Medicine and Genetics, Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan
  • 3Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan
Further Information

Publication History

Publication Date:
05 January 2007 (online)


Inflammation has been implicated in the mechanisms responsible for preterm and term parturition, as well as fetal injury. Out of all of the suspected causes of preterm labor and delivery, infection and/or inflammation is the only pathological process for which both a firm causal link with preterm birth has been established and a molecular pathophysiology defined. Inflammation has also been implicated in the mechanism of spontaneous parturition at term. Most cases of histopathological inflammation and histological chorioamnionitis, both in preterm and term labor, are sub-clinical in nature. The isolation of bacteria in the amniotic fluid, known as microbial invasion of the amniotic cavity, is a pathological finding; the frequency of which is dependent upon the clinical presentation and gestational age. This article reviews the role of inflammation in preterm and term parturition.


Roberto RomeroM.D. 

Perinatology Research Branch, NICHD/NIH/DHHS Hutzel Women's Hospital - Box #4

3990 John R., Detroit, MI 48201