High Amniotic Fluid Levels (Hydramnios or Polyhydramnios)

August 13, 2010

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What is Hydramnios (Polyhydramnios)?

Hydramnios, or polyhydramnios, is a condition where there is an excess of amniotic fluid surrounding the fetus. Hydramnios occurs in approximately 3 to 4 percent of pregnancies.

What Causes Hydramnios?

Hydramnios can arise from an excess production of amniotic fluid or from a problem in the fetus that prevents the fluid from being taken up. Maternal diabetes can predispose a pregnant woman to hydramnios.

Issues with the fetus that can cause hydramnios include congenital infection, gastrointestinal abnormalities that block the passage of fluid, abnormal swallowing, chromosomal abnormalities, central nervous system abnormalities, heart failure, and twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome.

What are the Risks Associated with Hydramnios?

An excess of amniotic fluid can lead to preterm labor or early rupture of the amniotic sac (water breaks). If the amniotic sac ruptures, there is a greater risk of the placenta detaching (placental abruption).

Hydramnios can lead to birth defects in the fetus.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Hydramnios?

Symptoms of hydramnios include contractions, abdominal discomfort and rapid growth of the uterus.

Hydramnios is generally diagnosed with the use of an ultrasound.

How is Hydramnios Treated?

The treatment of hydramnios includes close monitoring of amniotic fluid levels, medication to decrease urine production in the baby, amniocentesis procedure to remove amniotic fluid and decrease pressure, and early delivery.

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