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CP, Intrauterine Infection Linked in White Preemies.

MIAMI BEACH -- Cerebral palsy appears to be associated with intrauterine infection in premature white babies but not in nonwhite infants, Dr. Judith Grether reported at the annual meeting of the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine.

"Many of the related reports in the literature do not differentiate by race, and this may be an explanation for some of the inconsistent results that have been reported," said Dr. Grether, an epidemiologist at the California Department of Health Services Birth Defects Monitoring Program in Emeryville.

In a poster presented at the meeting, she and her colleagues matched 169 preterm infants with confirmed cerebral palsy (CP) with 264 control infants with no neurologic conditions. The children were followed up until at least age 4 years.

They found a significantly stronger association between intrauterine infection and CP among babies born to white mothers, compared with babies born to nonwhite mothers.

Indicators of uterine infection included clinical chorioamnionitis; a maternal temperature above 37[degrees]C; acute placental inflammation; placental-fetal inflammation; maternal fever and at least two of the following clinical findings: fetal tachycardia, white blood count below 15,000, or a foul vaginal discharge. However, the researchers did not assume that the presence of any one of these indicators, by itself, indicated infection.

Interestingly, prior research by Dr. Grether had identified a ninefold increase in CP among term infants exposed to intrauterine infection.

However, this latest study revealed no increase in CP associated with infection in preterm infants who were born at less than 32 weeks' gestation.

"It was only when we broke the data down into whites and nonwhites that we noticed a difference," Dr. Grether said in an interview Currently, there is no explanation for this finding, she added.
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Publication:OB GYN News
Date:May 15, 2000
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