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What are the causes and treatment of oligoamnios?

Monday, 27 February 2006
Answered by: Dr. Shirish Kumar
Consultant Haematologist,
Sir Ganga Ram Hospital,
New Delhi
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Q. I am in my 8th month of pregnancy. Doctors say that I have mild oligoamious. How will it affect my growing child? What is the remedy?

A.  Oligohydramnios or oligoamnios is a deficiency in the amount of amniotic fluid. This fluid bathes the fetus in the uterus and is necessary for its proper growth and development. It cushions the fetus from physical trauma, permits fetal lung growth, and provides a barrier against infection. Normal amniotic fluid levels vary but the average volume increases with gestational age and is maximum (~1 litre) at 36-37 weeks of pregnancy. In the late stages of pregnancy, most of the amniotic fluid is fetal urine. Inadequate levels of amniotic fluid results in poor development of the lung tissue and can lead to fetal death. The most common cause for this is rupture of the membranes, absence of fetal urine production or a blockage in fetus urinary tract. Maternal causes include placental insufficiency and chronic leakage of the amniotic fluid. The mortality rate in oligohydramnios is high. The lack of amniotic fluid may cause pulmonary hypoplasia in the baby, meconium staining, fetal heart conduction abnormalities, poor tolerance of labor, lower Apgar scores, and fetal acidosis. Treatment includes the use of steroids to enhance fetal lung maturity, maternal bed rest and hydration by having the women drink 2 liters of water daily. Please discuss with your doctor as he/she will be best placed to advise you.

A.  Oligohydramnios or oligoamnios is a deficiency in the amount of amniotic fluid. This fluid bathes the fetus in the uterus and is necessary for its proper growth and development. It cushions the fetus from physical trauma, permits fetal lung growth, and provides a barrier against infection. Normal amniotic fluid levels vary but the average volume increases with gestational age and is maximum (~1 litre) at 36-37 weeks of pregnancy. In the late stages of pregnancy, most of the amniotic fluid is fetal urine. Inadequate levels of amniotic fluid results in poor development of the lung tissue and can lead to fetal death. The most common cause for this is rupture of the membranes, absence of fetal urine production or a blockage in fetus urinary tract. Maternal causes include placental insufficiency and chronic leakage of the amniotic fluid. The mortality rate in oligohydramnios is high. The lack of amniotic fluid may cause pulmonary hypoplasia in the baby, meconium staining, fetal heart conduction abnormalities, poor tolerance of labor, lower Apgar scores, and fetal acidosis. Treatment includes the use of steroids to enhance fetal lung maturity, maternal bed rest and hydration by having the women drink 2 liters of water daily. Please discuss with your doctor as he/she will be best placed to advise you.

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