Amniotic fluid sludge is associated with earlier preterm delivery and raised cervicovaginal interleukin 8 concentrations

Natalie Suff*, Eve Webley, Megan Hall, Rachel M. Tribe, Andrew H. Shennan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
16 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Preterm birth is the leading cause of global neonatal mortality. Amniotic fluid sludge, thought to indicate intra-amniotic infection, may have potential as a clinical biomarker of preterm birth risk. OBJECTIVE: This study aimed to analyze whether the presence of amniotic fluid sludge in pregnant participants with a known short cervical length can help improve the understanding of the etiology and guide management choice. STUDY DESIGN: This was a retrospective cohort study analyzing the effects of amniotic fluid sludge presence on the risk of preterm birth in high-risk asymptomatic pregnant participants with a short cervical length (<25 mm) at a large tertiary referral maternity center in London. Amniotic fluid sludge was detected on a routine transvaginal ultrasound scan. RESULTS: Overall, 147 pregnant participants with a short cervical length were identified, 54 of whom had amniotic fluid sludge. Compared with pregnant participants without amniotic fluid sludge, pregnant participants with amniotic fluid sludge were more likely to have a short cervical length (19 vs 14 mm, respectively; P<.0001) and increased cervicovaginal fetal fibronectin concentrations at diagnosis (125 vs 45 ng/mL, respectively; P=.0006). Pregnant participants with amniotic fluid sludge were at increased risk of midtrimester loss and delivery before 24 weeks of gestation (relative risk, 3.4; 95% confidence interval, 1.2–10.3). Furthermore, this study showed that pregnant participants with amniotic fluid sludge have increased cervicovaginal interleukin 8 concentrations, supporting the concept of amniotic fluid sludge as an indicator of an inflammatory response to microbial invasion (P=.03). Neonatal outcomes were similar between the 2 groups. CONCLUSION: In our cohort of high-risk asymptomatic pregnant participants with a short cervical length, the presence of amniotic fluid sludge is associated with an increased risk of delivery before 24 weeks of gestation. Moreover, pregnant participants with amniotic fluid sludge were more likely to have raised fetal fibronectin levels and inflammatory cytokines, particularly interleukin 8, in the cervicovaginal fluid, supporting the concept that amniotic fluid sludge is associated with an infective or inflammatory process. Future research should aim to further establish the clinical significance of amniotic fluid sludge presence and guide subsequent management.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101161
JournalAmerican Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology MFM
Volume5
Issue number11
Early online date7 Oct 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2023

Keywords

  • cervical length
  • cervicovaginal fluid
  • cytokines
  • intra-amniotic infection
  • preterm birth
  • previable
  • transvaginal ultrasound scan

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