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Polyhydramnios: Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors, Diagnosis and Treatment

Jan 30, 2024

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Causes Of Polyhydramnios

Symptoms Of Polyhydramnios

Risk Factors Of Polyhydramnios

Diagnosis Of Polyhydramnios

Treatment Of Polyhydramnios


 Polyhydramnios is the term for the build-up of excess amniotic fluid that surrounds the growing fetus in the uterus during pregnancy. Pregnant women experience polyhydramnios in 1–2% of cases.

The sickness is usually not too severe. It is often detected in the middle or later stages of pregnancy. Severe polyhydramnios can cause symptoms such as shortness of breath and early labor.

If polyhydramnios is detected, your healthcare team closely examines your pregnancy to help prevent health problems. The degree of the illness determines the course of treatment. Mild cases of polyhydramnios may resolve on their own. Severe polyhydramnios may need closer monitoring by your care team.

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Causes Of Polyhydramnios

The following are among the known causes of polyhydramnios:

  • Conditions affecting the baby's gastrointestinal tract, central neurological system, or other particular organs.
  • Circumstances that impact the baby's genetic makeup.
  • Pregnancy-related diabetes in a mother.
  • A problem with identical twins during pregnancy where one twin receives a lot of blood while the other receives less. This is called "twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome".
  • Fetal anemia is sometimes referred to as a decreased red blood cell count in the pregnancy.
  • A condition where the blood cells of the pregnant mother assault the baby's blood cells.
  • Infection connected to pregnancy.
  • A lot of the time, especially when polyhydramnios is mildly symptomatic, the cause is still unknown.

Also Read: Menstrual Cramps: Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors, Diagnosis, Treatment

Symptoms Of Polyhydramnios

The symptoms of polyhydramnios may be related to the accumulation of amniotic fluid, which puts pressure on the surrounding organs and inside the uterus. Many times, mild polyhydramnios have few or no symptoms. However, severe variants of the illness could result in:

  • Breathing difficulty or shortness of breath.
  • Swelling around the feet or ankles.
  • Pain in the stomach.
  • Contractions are sensations of tightness in the uterine muscles.

Your doctor can also investigate polyhydramnios if your uterus has become larger than expected for the number of weeks you are pregnant.

Also Read: Urinary Tract Infection: Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prevention and Complications

Risk Factors Of Polyhydramnios

Polyhydramnios is associated with some conditions that can develop during pregnancy, such as gestational diabetes. Additionally, you may be at risk for polyhydramnios if you have a condition that affects the developing baby, such as a problem with the digestive system, central nervous system, or other organs.

Problems related to polyhydramnios are:

  • An early delivery of a baby is referred to as a premature birth.
  • The term "breech birth" refers to a delivery where the infant is not placed in the ideal head-down position.
  • "Water breaking" is another term used to describe the early rupture of membranes.
  • The term "umbilical cord prolapse" refers to the situation where the baby's umbilical cord descends into the vagina before it does.
  • Just before delivery, the placenta, which provides the fetus with oxygen and nutrition, separates from the uterine wall. This is known as placental abruption.
  • An emergency C-section is necessary.
  • Pregnancy loss after 20 weeks, also referred to as a stillbirth.
  • Heavy bleeding after giving birth due to weakening of the uterine muscles.
  • More serious health problems are usually linked to severe polyhydramnios.

Also Read: Epistomy: Uses, Procedure, Types, Complications, Prevention

Diagnosis Of Polyhydramnios

To find out if you have polyhydramnios, you will most likely have a fetal ultrasound. This test uses high-frequency sound waves to create images of your unborn child on a monitor.

To check for polyhydramnios, medical professionals can measure the single largest pocket of amniotic fluid surrounding the baby. This is referred to as the maximum vertical pocket (MVP). As an alternative, they might evaluate the fluid in the four quadrants of the uterus, or the amniotic fluid index (AFI). Polyhydramnios is identified when the MVP is 8 or higher or the AFI is 24 or higher.

Depending on the severity and timing of the problem, your healthcare team may recommend additional testing to try and determine the cause of the polyhydramnios:

  • Blood tests: These can be used as a screening tool for polyhydramnios-related infections.
  • Amniocentesis: An amniotic fluid sample from the uterus is removed during this procedure to be examined. The fluid contains chemicals produced by the unborn child as well as fetal cells. It is also possible to use the fluid's cells for genetic testing if a hereditary illness is detected.

Your medical team closely examines your pregnancy if you have polyhydramnios. The tests that you may be offered are as follows:

  • Nonstress test: The heart rate of your baby is being tracked during this examination of movement. Throughout the test, equipment that you will wear on your stomach or abdomen will be used to monitor the baby's pulse rate. Alternatively, you may use a device that looks like a buzzer to wake the baby and encourage movement.
  • Biophysical profile: This exam can help you better understand your baby's breathing, tone, and movement using ultrasound technology. With its help, one may also measure the volume of amniotic fluid in the uterus. Together with a non-stress exam, it could be utilized.

Also Read: Placenta Accreta: Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors, Diagnosis, Treatment and Complications

Treatment Of Polyhydramnios

Rarely is mild polyhydramnios need to be treated. It could vanish by itself. In all other cases, polyhydramnios may be resolved by treating an underlying illness like diabetes.

You may require hospital treatment if you have severe polyhydramnios and exhibit symptoms including stomach pain, shortness of breath, or contractions. Options for treating polyhydramnios include:

  • The extra amniotic fluid needs to be removed: Your medical team may use an amniocentesis technique to drain extra amniotic fluid from your uterus. There is a remote possibility that this procedure will result in health problems. These include preterm labor, placental abruption, and early membrane rupture.
  • Medical attention: Your doctor might recommend the oral drug indomethacin, often known as Indocin. To reduce the amount of amniotic fluid and contractions, it is given for 48 hours. 

Ask your care team to discuss the possible adverse effects. Following therapy, your medical team will likely want to check your amniotic fluid level every one to three weeks. Your care team would most likely plan for your baby's birth to occur at 39 or 40 weeks if your polyhydramnios is mild to severe. 

If your polyhydramnios is severe, your team will likely talk about the best timing to deliver. The goal is to lower your and your baby's risk of health problems. Polyhydramnios is a challenging disease. You do, however, have your medical team available to you. Partner with your child to ensure they receive the best care possible.

Also Read: Uterus Didelphys(Double Uterus): Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment and Complications

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