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29 September 2022 Is human labor at term an inflammatory condition?
Chandrashekara Kyathanahalli, Madeline Snedden, Emmet Hirsch
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Parturition at term in normal pregnancy follows a predictable sequence of events. There is some evidence that a state of inflammation prevails in the reproductive tissues during labor at term, but it is uncertain whether this phenomenon is the initiating signal for parturition. The absence of a clear temporal sequence of inflammatory events prior to labor casts doubt on the concept that normal human labor at term is primarily the result of an inflammatory cascade. This review examines evidence linking parturition and inflammation in order to address whether inflammation is a cause of labor, a consequence of labor, or a separate but related phenomenon. Finally, we identify and suggest ways to reconcile inconsistencies regarding definitions of labor onset in published research, which may contribute to the variability in conclusions regarding the genesis and maintenance of parturition. A more thorough understanding of the processes underlying normal parturition at term may lead to novel insights regarding abnormal labor, including spontaneous preterm labor, preterm premature rupture of the fetal membranes, and dysfunctional labor, and the role of inflammation in each.

Summary Sentence

Human labor has features suggestive of inflammatory processes. However, data indicate that inflammation may not be necessary for labor initiation at term. Further research is needed to understand the events leading to normal human parturition.

© The Author(s) 2022. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Society for the Study of Reproduction. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail:
Chandrashekara Kyathanahalli, Madeline Snedden, and Emmet Hirsch "Is human labor at term an inflammatory condition?," Biology of Reproduction 108(1), 23-40, (29 September 2022).
Received: 11 May 2022; Accepted: 22 September 2022; Published: 29 September 2022
labor initiation and delivery
maternal and fetal tissues
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