Amniotic fluid embolism

Amniotic fluid embolism

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Amniotic fluid embolism is a rare but serious condition that occurs when amniotic fluid — the fluid that surrounds a baby in the uterus during pregnancy — or fetal material, such as fetal cells, enters the mother’s bloodstream. Amniotic fluid embolism is most likely to occur during delivery or in the immediate postpartum period.

Amniotic fluid embolism is difficult to diagnose. If your doctor suspects you might have one, you’ll need immediate treatment to prevent potentially life-threatening complications.

Amniotic fluid embolism might develop suddenly and rapidly. Signs and symptoms might include:

Amniotic fluid embolism occurs when amniotic fluid or fetal material enters the mother’s bloodstream. A likely cause is a breakdown in the placental barrier, such as from trauma.

When this breakdown happens, the immune system responds by releasing products that cause an inflammatory reaction, which activates abnormal clotting in the mother’s lungs and blood vessels. This can result in a serious blood-clotting disorder known as disseminated intravascular coagulation.

However, amniotic fluid embolisms are rare — and it’s likely that some amniotic fluid commonly enters the mother’s bloodstream during delivery without causing problems. It’s not clear why in some mothers this leads to amniotic fluid embolism.

It’s estimated that there are between one and 12 cases of amniotic fluid embolism for every 100,000 deliveries. Because amniotic fluid embolisms are rare, it’s difficult to identify risk factors.

Research suggests that several factors might be linked to an increased risk of amniotic fluid embolism, however, including:

Amniotic fluid embolism can cause serious complications for you and your baby, including:

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Amniotic fluid embolism

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