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What Is Chorioamnionitis?

What the heck is chorioamnionitis? Could it happen to me?
ByJames O’Brien, MD
OB-GYN
Updated
February 28, 2017
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Chorioamnionitis is an infection of the placenta and membranes — it’s most likely to occur after a mom-to-be’s membranes have been ruptured. That’s why doctors and nurses keep tabs on your labor once your water breaks; each passing hour is another hour that bacteria could migrate up into the amniotic sac. It’s also why care providers typically limit the number of vaginal exams during labor, especially after the water has broken — so there’s less chance of introducing bacteria into the birth canal.

Chorioamnionitis is rare; it only occurs in about 2 percent of pregnancies in the US and is more common in preterm deliveries. The problem with chorioamnionitis is that it can lead to a serious infection of mom, baby or both. Symptoms include maternal fever, increased maternal or fetal heart rate,  tenderness in the abdomen and funky-smelling vaginal discharge. If infection is suspected, you’ll get an IV of antibiotics, and the baby will be delivered ASAP.

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