Infected Placenta During Pregnancy: Its Causes And Symptoms

Infected placenta is an infection caused by bacteria that invade chorion, chorionic fluid and the placenta. It can occur before or during the time of delivery. The condition is also called as chorioamnionitis or intra-amniotic infection. Infection of placenta and chorion or chorionic fluid can cause lead to several obstetric complication in fetus. It can also affect the health of pregnant woman leading to preterm birth.

Infection occurs through two routes; either it ascends from the vagina into the uterus or from systemic hematogenous route. The symptoms suggestive of infected placenta are fever, foul smelling discharge from vagina of pregnant woman, and rapid heart rate of mother as well as the fetus.

Use of intravenous broad spectrum antibiotic is treatment choice.

What Causes An Infection In The Placenta?

Infection of placenta mainly occurs due to bacteria. There are several strains of bacteria in the vagina. Bacteria that are involved in urogenital tract infection are usually the same that may cause infection of placenta and chorionic fluid. E.coli, streptococcus and other anerobic bacteria are mostly responsible for it.

Normally the cervix prevents entry of the bacteria into the uterus. However, when this is compromised, bacteria may get a chance to enter into the uterus. The other local factors which may increase the risk of are lack of proper genital hygiene, short cervix, HIV infection in pregnant woman.

Infection can also spread through blood. It is usually caused due to TORCH infections which include toxoplasmosis, syphilis, listeriosis, rubella infection, cytomegalovirus, and herpes simplex virus.

There are several factors which increase the risk of infection.

  • Frequent digital examination during labor with ruptured membrane.
  • Amniotic fluid which gets stained with meconium.
  • Labor prolongs than usual expected time.
  • Premature rupture of membranes.
  • Low socioeconomic back ground.
  • Frequent monitoring of fetus.
  • Young age of pregnant woman. Woman less than 20 years are at greater risk of developing this infection.
  • Women who had infection in first pregnancy.

Signs And Symptoms Of Infected Placenta

The clinical symptoms are often subdued and many pregnant women may not even experience any symptom.

Therefore blood tests such as complete blood count, ESR, and other tests help to diagnose the condition. Signs and symptoms when present are as follows:

  • Unusual vaginal discharge that is yellow or green in color.
  • Foul smelling vaginal discharge.
  • Raised body temperature.
  • Rapid pulse and heart rate.

Many times the condition can be missed due to absence of proper symptoms. This may need further investigation. Although, in majority of cases amniocentesis is not done, it may become necessary to diagnose a subclinical infection.

Treatment For Placental Infection

The main treatment for infected placenta is antibiotics. Antibiotics are administered through intravenous route. Most often the gynecologist starts antibiotic therapy before the culture reports are available. Even after delivery of the fetus, antibiotics are continued for few days. Antibiotic therapy is also administered to the mother after delivery. In some cases early delivery of the child may be necessary if any sign of fetal distress is noticed.