Amniotic fluid embolism

11 June 2018
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11 June 2018, Comments: 0

Amniotic fluid embolism is a complication during pregnancy that results to dangerous conditions such as heart failure. It can affect both the mother and child. This occurs once the amniotic fluid or fetal hair, cells or other debris enter the bloodstream.

The condition can arise during labor or right after vaginal or cesarean birth. In rare instances, it can occur during abortion or while a sample of the amniotic fluid is drawn out for examination.

Remember that amniotic fluid embolism is a detrimental reaction that arises once the amniotic fluid moves into the circulatory system. It could not be prevented and the reason why it occurs remains unknown.

What are the signs?

Amniotic fluid embolism

Amniotic fluid embolism is a complication during pregnancy that results to dangerous conditions such as heart failure.

The initial phase of amniotic fluid embolism includes cardiac arrest as well as rapid respiratory failure. Take note that cardiac arrest arises if the heart ceases to function and the individual loses consciousness and stops breathing.

Rapid respiratory failure occurs if the lungs could not supply enough oxygen to the blood or eliminate enough carbon dioxide.

Other possible symptoms that might arise include:

  • Fetal distress – these are signs that the child is not well including irregularities in the fetal heart rate or diminished womb movement
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Severe anxiety or agitation
  • Seizures
  • Discolored skin

Management of amniotic fluid embolism


The treatment is aimed on managing the symptoms as well as preventing the condition from progressing to coma or even death.

Oxygen or a ventilator can assist with breathing. Remember that ensuring that there is enough oxygen is vital to ensure that the baby is supplied with sufficient oxygen.

A pulmonary artery catheter might be inserted to monitor the heart. Drugs are also given to control the blood pressure. In most cases, several transfusions of blood, plasma and platelet are necessary to replace the blood lost during the hemorrhagic stage.


The doctor will monitor the infant for any signs of distress. The baby is likely to be delivered once the condition is stabilized to improve the chances of survival. In most instances, infants end up in the intensive care unit for close monitoring.

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