Polyhydramnios- Excessive Amniotic Fluid During Pregnancy
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A growing baby is fenced by amniotic fluid in the womb. The amniotic fluid protects the growing fetus by acting as a cushion and prevents any kind infection in the womb. It also makes the movement of the baby easier in the womb. This way it helps in the musculoskeletal development. It also helps with the development of lungs and different organ systems. What happens if the quantity of amniotic fluid increases abnormally during pregnancy? How does it affect the pregnancy? Continue reading to know more about polyhydramnios, a condition in which the amount of the amniotic fluid increases abnormally.
What Is Polyhydramnios?
Polyhydramnios is an abnormal condition that happens during pregnancy caused by excess amniotic fluid. The increased levels of fluid can bring about several issues during different stages of pregnancy and delivery and can often lead to adverse pregnancy complications. Polyhydramnios is seen in around 1% of pregnancies.
The polyhydramnios can be either chronic, in which the buildup of amniotic fluid will progress slowly or can be acute, marked by quick accumulation of amniotic fluid.
What Results In Polyhydramnios?
During the initial 14 weeks of gestation, the amniotic fluid is made from water and fluids taken in by the mother. After that, as the baby grows, majority of the fluid actually consists of baby’s urine. It breathes in the fluid, swallows some and excretes the same as urine to maintain a balance. For various reasons this delicate balance of amniotic fluid can be disturbed resulting in too much or too little fluid buildup, either one of which is not a favorable condition for a healthy pregnancy.
Causes Of Polyhydramnios
In about 50% of polyhydramnios cases, there are no definite reasons to pinpoint. More studies are required in this field for further information. In the other 50% cases, polyhydramnios is due to either maternal, placental or fetal issues. Here are the most significant reasons behind polyhydramnios.
Polyhydramnios due to placental issues: Polyhydramnios can occur as a result of some issues related to placenta such as:
Chorioangioma of placenta: Placental chorioangioma is the most common placental tumor and results in polyhydramnios
Twin-twin transfusion: This is an issue associated with multiple pregnancies (precisely the monochorionic twin pregnancies) in which, the babies shares a single placenta. As a result, one child receives more blood than the other one. One who gets more blood is the recipient and one gets less blood is the donor. The urine output of recipient baby increases tremendously due to increased blood supply resulting in polyhydramnios
Polyhydramnios due to fetal issues: Polyhydramnios can occur as a result of some issues related to the fetus that affect the ability of the fetus to swallow and excrete amniotic fluid.
Fetal anemia: The lack of sufficient RBC (red blood cells) in the baby increases the cardiac output. This, in turn, increases the production of fetal urine resulting in polyhydramnios
Gastrointestinal track issues: Gastrointestinal track obstruction in the fetus can result in polyhydramnios as it interferes with the proper intake and excretion of amniotic fluid
Fetal renal issues: Issues related to fetal kidney can increase the urine production resulting in polyhydramnios
Chromosomal abnormalities: Sometimes, chromosomal abnormalities like Down syndrome are found to cause polyhydramnios
Fetal macrosomia: Excessive amniotic fluid can be caused due to fetal macrosomia. In this case the baby is larger for its gestational period
Polyhydramnios due to maternal issues: Some of the maternal issues that develop during pregnancy can lead to polyhydramnios.
Diabetes: If the blood sugar level of the mother is high, it will influence the baby. As a result, the baby produces more urine. This results in the increased volume of the amniotic fluid (polyhydramnios)
Infections: Various infections like rubella, parvovirus etc. that affect the mother reaches the fetus and due to this fetus may develop certain abnormalities that hinder with the proper intake and excretion of amniotic fluid triggering polyhydramnios
Hypertension: Pregnancy induced blood pressure increases the amount of the amniotic fluid resulting in polyhydramnios
Preeclampsia:Preeclampsia and polyhydramnios are closely related. Most of the mothers who develop preeclampsia are also found to experience polyhydramnios
Rhesus disease: Rhesus disease is a condition in which the antibodies in mother’s blood destroy the baby’s blood cells resulting in fetal anemia which is one of the major causes of polyhydramnios
Symptoms Of Polyhydramnios
Usually, the polyhydramnios has no significant symptoms. However, severe polyhydramnios shows certain symptoms as the increased amniotic fluid put pressure both inside and on the organs that are situated outside the uterus. The symptoms caused by severe polyhydramnios include:
If the doctor doubts polyhydramnios, he will straight away go for an ultrasound. If needed he will go for a more detailed scan, in which, the amniotic fluid index is evaluated. This is done by measuring the four deepest pockets in four different areas of the uterus. If the total is or above 25 centimeters or a single pocket has fluid more than 8 cm deep, polyhydramnios is confirmed. Other tests like amniocentesis, glucose challenge test or karyotype are conducted to find the reason.
How To Manage The Polyhydramnios Condition?
Once polyhydramnios is confirmed, the baby and mother will be closely monitored. The non-stress test, fetal echocardiogram, Doppler ultrasound, biophysical profile etc. are done for close monitoring.
In addition, complete bed rest, avoiding long journeys (even short jerky ones), using pregnancy cushions to support the big belly, avoiding lying down position immediately after food, consumption of less spicy food etc. are suggested to avoid further complications.
What Are The Treatment Options For Polyhydramnios?
Only acute polyhydramnios are usually treated. Whereas, the moderate ones only needed to be closely monitored. The treatment options are determined according to the severity and cause. Some of the treatment options are:
Amnio reduction: Amnio reduction procedure is used to drain out excess amniotic fluid from uterus
Medicine to decrease the fetal urine production: Certain oral medicines are prescribed to decrease production of fetal urine. Though this is not recommended after the 31st week of gestation
Medicines to regulate the fetal heart rate: In some cases, the doctor may prescribe medicines for stabilizing baby’s heart rate
After treatment, the doctor will still want to monitor the amniotic fluid levels every one to three weeks.