Oligohydramnios - What Is That?

March 5, 2009

Amniotic Fluid: The Baby Is Drinking What?!

When conception occurs many amazing things began to happen and take shape in the uterus in order to provide the environment for the baby to grow and develop. At about 12 days after conception a sac is formed in which the developing baby will live during the time of gestation. Within a very short period the sac fills with amniotic fluid that is made up of liquid from the mother's circulatory system. In the early stages of the second trimester, the baby starts to swallow the fluid which passes through the kidneys and is excreted as urine, which is then swallowed again. By 20 weeks the fetal urine becomes the primary substance of amniotic fluid.

What Is The Purpose Of Amniotic Fluid?

The amniotic fluid provides the environment for the baby to tumble around in, allowing for proper growth of muscles and bones. It cushions and protects from injury that may be caused by impact or trauma and prevents the umbilical cord from compression, which could limit the supply of oxygen to the baby. The constant temperature in the womb is also governed by the amniotic fluid. The breathing and swallowing the amniotic fluid by the baby stimulates the development of the digestive and respiratory systems.

Olioghydramnios-Another Word For Low Amniotic Fluid

Amniotic fluid is produced by both mother and baby and is critical to the health and development of the baby. In some cases the level of amniotic fluid is too low. This is called oligohydramnios. When the levels are too high, the condition is called polyhydramnios. It is reported that about eight percent of pregnant women have low levels of amniotic fluid with about four percent of those women being diagnosed with oligohydramnios. While it can happen at any time during the pregnancy, most frequently it is found in the last trimester. A woman who passes her due date by two or more weeks is at risk for low amniotic fluid. This condition can cause complications in 12 percent of pregnancies that go past 41 weeks.

Causes Of Olioghydramnios From Both Sides Of The Womb

Since both mother and baby produce amniotic fluid, there are possible causes related to both when it comes to oligohydramnios. If the baby has birth defects or problems with the development of the kidneys or urinary tract it may result in the production of little urine which, in turn, leads to low amniotic fluid. If the placenta is not providing adequate nutrients through the blood then the baby may stop recycling the fluid. A leak or premature rupture of the membranes (PROM) is often a factor which affects levels. If the mother has preeclampsia, is suffering with dehydration, diabetes or chronic hypoxia, the amniotic fluid level may be affected.

If oligohydramnios happens at the outset of the pregnancy, then complications for the baby can be more serious than if the situation happens later in the pregnancy. Birth defects resulting from organ compression increase if the condition is in the first trimester, as does the chance for a miscarriage or stillbirth. If low amniotic fluid is detected in the second half of the pregnancy, complications include preterm birth, under-development of the baby and labor complications which may require a caesarean delivery.

 

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