Hydrops fetalis: symptoms and causes of hydrops fetalis in the first trimester. Experiences and what to do for fetal hydrops: can it be reabsorbed?
L’fetal hydrops it is a serious condition that causes the accumulation of fluids in the body, leading to the formation of widespread edema, which can occur in both the newborn and the fetus and can be of two types: immune and non-immune. But what are the causes, and what are the symptoms and treatment options?
In this article
Immune fetal hydrops
This kind of shape fetal hydrops and the less widespread: it can be caused by a hydrops or is not very common. It can develop due to an incompatibility with the Maternal Rhesus (Rh) factor: if the mother is Rh negative and the baby is Rh positive the immune system will eventually attack red blood cells of the fetus and cause a severe anemia and a condition known as haemolytic disease of the fetus, of which fetal hydrops is the most severe manifestation.
As a result, developing organs are affected and large amounts of fluid accumulate in the tissues and organs. Immune fetal hydrops is, nowadays, increasingly rare because thanks to the Coombs test indirect it is possible to know the blood group of the mother and, in case of Rh negative, rapid action is taken with treatment with Rh immunoglobulin.
Non-immune hydrops fetalis
Lnon-immune hydrops fetalis it is the most common form and can be caused by various diseases and conditions such as:
- Severe anemia
- Infections present before birth
- Heart or lung defects
- Chromosomal abnormalities and birth defects
- Liver disease
Symptoms of fetal hydrops
THE symptoms of fetal hydrops they can manifest slightly differently in each child. The most common symptoms of hydrops include:
- Large amounts of amniotic fluid
- Thickened placenta
- An ultrasound examination shows an enlargement of the liver, spleen or heart and also a possible accumulation of fluids around the abdominal organs, heart or lungs.
- Pale complexion
- Severe swelling in general, especially in the baby’s abdominal area
- Breathing problems
- Enlarged liver and spleen
There diagnosis of fetal hydrops it is usually done with an ultrasound: your doctor may notice a fetal hydrops during a normal routine check-up.
Other diagnostic tests will then be performed to determine the severity or cause of the hydrops. Some exams can be:
- fetal blood sampling
- fetal echocardiography.
The treatment of fetal hydrops it depends on the cause and if it is an immune or non-immune condition: during pregnancy, hydrops can only be curable in some cases and it may be necessary to give birth earlier.
In a newborn, treatment may include surgery to resolve breathing problems and removing excess fluid from the tissues around the lungs, heart, or inside the belly.
What are the chances of survival and recovery?
The outlook depends on the condition that caused the dropsy, but even with treatment the survival rate for the baby is bass: only about 20% of babies diagnosed with fetal hydrops before birth will survive delivery and of those babies, only half will survive after delivery. The risk of death is higher for babies who have been diagnosed early – less than 24 weeks into pregnancy – or who have structural abnormalities, such as a heart defect.
Babies born with hydrops fetalis may also have underdeveloped lungs and be at increased risk of:
- heart failure
- brain damage