Oligohydramnios is a condition in which there is too little amniotic fluid surrounding the fetus in the uterus. Amniotic fluid is essential to the development and growth of the fetus, and its absence can cause serious complications. It is most seen in the third trimester of pregnancy but can occur in any stage.
There are several potential causes of oligohydramnios, including:
- Premature rupture of the membranes (PROM) – When the amniotic sac ruptures prematurely, the amniotic fluid can leak out, leading to oligohydramnios.
- Placental abnormalities – Abnormalities of the placenta, such as placenta previa or placental abruption, can lead to decreased amniotic fluid.
- High blood pressure – High blood pressure, especially when accompanied by protein in the urine (pre-eclampsia), can lead to decreased amniotic fluid.
- Infection – Infections, such as those caused by bacteria or a virus, can cause decreased amniotic fluid.
- Genetic abnormalities – Certain genetic abnormalities, such as anencephaly, can lead to decreased amniotic fluid.
- Multiple pregnancies – Twins and other multiple pregnancies can lead to decreased amniotic fluid due to the limited space available in the uterus.
The symptoms of oligohydramnios depend on the severity and duration of the condition. In mild cases, there may be no symptoms at all. In more severe cases, the following symptoms may be present:
- Decreased fetal movement
- Abnormal fetal position
- Decreased fetal heart rate
- Abnormal levels of amniotic fluid
Oligohydramnios is usually diagnosed during a routine ultrasound. The ultrasound will measure the amount of amniotic fluid present in the uterus. If the amount is less than expected, your doctor will diagnose oligohydramnios.
The treatment of oligohydramnios depends on the underlying cause. If the cause is pre-eclampsia or a similar condition, then the treatment will focus on controlling the underlying condition. If the cause is infection, then antibiotics may be prescribed. If the cause is unknown, then the treatment may focus on providing extra nutrients and hormones to the fetus through a special intravenous line.
It is not always possible to prevent oligohydramnios, as it can be caused by a variety of factors. However, there are some steps that can be taken to reduce the risk of this condition. These steps include:
- Getting regular prenatal care – Regular prenatal visits can help to detect any potential problems early on.
- Eating a healthy diet – Eating a diet that is rich in nutrients can help to ensure that the fetus is getting all the nutrients it needs.
- Avoiding certain medications –Certain medications, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), can increase the risk of oligohydramnios.
- Avoiding alcohol and smoking – Drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes can increase the risk of oligohydramnios.
- Maintaining a healthy weight – Being overweight or obese during pregnancy can increase the risk of oligohydramnios.