Ready to learn a new prenatal vocabulary word? Oligohydramnios in pregnancy is a very long term referring to a dealing with a deficit of amniotic fluid.  This is a condition that can lead to several serious conditions including facial distortion and growth restriction.  Your body begins forming the amniotic sac around 12 days after conception; the sac contains the amniotic fluid which both protects and helps your baby develop. 

Diagnosing Oligohydramnios in Pregnancy 

This condition affects less than 5% of expecting mothers.  Although it can present at any time throughout pregnancy, it becomes most common in the third trimester.  Of the small percentage of women affected, many of those develop oligohydramnios if they are overdue; the amniotic fluid begins to decrease on its own after 42 weeks. This prenatal condition can be easily diagnosed with an ultrasound.  During an ultrasound, one of the many things the technician will measure is the amount of amniotic fluid present around the fetus.  A calculation of less than 5 to 6 cm indicates the presence of oligohydramnios, treatment for which is available.

Four types of issues may contribute to the development of this prenatal condition.  First, fetal abnormalities, specifically related to the urinary tract, can trigger this condition.  Abnormalities including Potter’s syndrome or congenital urinary tract obstructions may be the culprits.  Second, taking ACE inhibitors, or angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors, a class of drugs used to treat hypertension has also been known to cause this condition.  Third, maternal complications including dehydration and preeclampsia can also cause oligohydramnios.  Fourth is a small category of unknown origin.  Of the four contributing factors, maternal dehydration is easiest to treat.

Oligohydramnios in Pregnancy

Generally speaking, the risks are higher the earlier in pregnancy this condition develops.  Since the amniotic fluid is an important component to the development of both the body and internal organs, the earlier it develops, the more likely it is that the baby will develop serious complications including birth defects.  If oligohydramnios develops at the end of the second trimester or into the third, then the complications may be less severe but still serious.  Such complications can include preterm birth and cord compression during labor.

The most common and low-risk oligohydramnios treatment is hydration.  Drinking water can help the body increase the level of amniotic fluid on its own.  In fact, a study entitled “Maternal hydration for increasing amniotic fluid volume in oligohydramnios and normal amniotic fluid volume” found that adequate hydration can reduce the likelihood of some of the problems associated with this prenatal condition.  If drinking water doesn’t positively affect the condition, IV fluids exists as another option.  More invasive treatments such as amnio-infusion or amniocentesis may also be effective.

Although a serious condition, oligohydramnios affects less than 5% of all pregnant women.  Of this number, it may be treated through maternal hydration, which exists as a no-risk option.  Throughout your pregnancy, staying hydrated is an important preventative measure to safeguard both your and your baby’s health.  If this condition appears beyond your control, your healthcare professional will go over your options and create a treatment plan that is best for you.

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