Symptoms Of Infected Placenta: Its Causes And Treatment

Chorioamnionitis or infection of the placenta is characterized by an infection of the amnion, chorion, amniotic fluid and placenta. An infected placenta is very risky; it can endanger the pregnancy, the developing fetus as well as the health of the mother.

In infection of the placenta occurs when bacteria gain entry via the birth canal or when they reach the placenta through the mother’s bloodstream.

Most ascending infections via the vagina are bacterial, though other microbes could be the cause too. The amniotic fluid appears hazy and pus-like due to an infiltration by leukocytes.

The placental infection could trigger pre-term labor and premature rupture of the membranes. Complications in the fetus include – a low apgar score (i.e. less than 3) at childbirth, sepsis, meningitis, respiratory tract infections, cerebral palsy, seizures and even death.

Complications for the mother include – bacteremia, pelvic abscesses, postpartum bleeding, poor wound healing and thrombo-embolism.

Signs And Symptoms Of Infected Placenta

The clinical presentation of placental infection tends to vary a great deal; only a few signs and symptoms of low intensity may be present in some mothers.

The symptoms may be somewhat indistinct.

Diagnosis should be made promptly; hence you need to carry out a few tests and investigations. The diagnosis is confirmed with blood tests – complete blood count

Commonly seen signs and symptoms of a placental infection are:

  • Fever
  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Abdominal tenderness
  • Discharge from the vagina – the discharge will be yellow or green and will have an offensive odor.
  • Rapid heart rate: Mother’s could be more than 100 beats per minutes; and the fetus’ could be more than 160 beats per minute.

When the symptoms are too indistinct and ambiguous, diagnosis could be missed. While an amniocentesis is usually not done, as far as possible, it may be imperative to conduct it to diagnose a sub-clinical infection.

What Causes Infection In Placenta?

  • Most cases of placental infection are because of an ascending bacterial infection through the vagina and frequently the same bacteria which are involved in other urogenital infections cause placental infection. The vagina and cervix try to maintain an environment which prevents infections from reaching the uterus. This may get compromised for a variety of reasons and it could permit the entry of the pathogenic bacteria.
  • Other risk factors include – poor urogenital hygiene, a weak immune mechanism, a short cervix and immune-compromised patients, like in HIV positive mothers.
  • While blood borne spread of pathogenic bacteria is quite possible, characteristically hematogenous infections that result in an infected placenta are due to:
  • Toxoplasmosis
  • Others like tuberculosis, syphilis, listeriosis
  • Rubella
  • Cytomegalovirus
  • Herpes simplex virus

Treatment For Placental Infection

Prompt diagnosis and rapid treatment regimen are very vital to ward off complications. Confer with your OOB/GYN to understand what the best treatment option for you is.

  • The doctor will prescribe a broad spectrum intravenous antibiotic; this is essential to prevent maternal and fetal complications. It may also be administered before evaluating the results of the culture. The antibiotics may need to be continued by the mother as well as the baby after birth; the type of antibiotic used for both may differ.
  • In certain cases, immediate delivery may be required, principally if there are signs of fetal distress. Conversely, this depends upon the stage of the pregnancy.