Oligohydramnios and Birth Trauma

Oligohydramnios and Birth Trauma

by / Friday, 07 January 2022 / Published in Birth Trauma
High angle view of a mother in a hospital gown holding a baby.

Amniotic fluid is an extremely important part of having a healthy pregnancy. Amniotic fluid helps protect the child from sudden movements and allows them to move around. It also helps regulate the child’s temperature, protects the umbilical cord from compression, and helps lungs develop correctly. But to do all of those things, it’s important for there be the right amount of amniotic fluid. Having too much or too little amniotic fluid can both cause problem. 

What is Oligohydramnios?

The exact amount of amniotic fluid a woman might have can vary depending on a variety of factors, including the stage of pregnancy and fetal weight. Oligohydramnios occurs when amniotic fluid levels fall to lower-than-average levels. 

Amniotic fluid levels are measured in terms of the amniotic fluid index (AFI) and the maximum vertical pocket (MVP). If the AFI is less than 5 centimeters and MVP is less than 2 centimeters, it is considered oligohydramnios. 

According to the March of Dimes, about 4% of all pregnant women experience oligohydramnios. It’s a condition that can occur at any point during pregnancy, but it tends to be most common during the last trimester and in pregnancies that last past their due date. 

Causes & Risk Factors for Oligohydramnios

There isn’t one set reason why oligohydramnios occurs. It can happen for many different reasons, including problems with the placenta, maternal health conditions, and a leak in fetal membranes.

In some cases, oligohydramnios can be caused by maternal health conditions, including dehydration, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Certain types of medications, including ones used to treat high blood pressure, can also be a factor. 

Since amniotic fluid levels tend to decrease late in pregnancy, pregnancies that last past the due date is another risk factor for oligohydramnios. In women whose pregnancies last two weeks past their due dates, oligohydramnios occurs in about 12% of women. 

A premature rupture of the membranes can also be a factor. This occurs when the water breaks after 37 weeks of pregnancy, but before the beginning of labor. 

Sometimes, oligohydramnios can be related to a birth defect in the baby, particularly ones related to the kidney and urinary system.

Complications of Oligohydramnios

Complications related to oligohydramnios can vary depending on when it occurs during pregnancy. If it happens during the third trimester, it can inhibit the baby’s growth or lead to problems during delivery like umbilical cord compression.

Oligohydramnios occurs less often during the first two trimesters of pregnancy, but when it does, the complications can be more severe, such as a higher risk of pulmonary hypoplasia, premature birth, miscarriage, and stillbirth.

Treatment & Diagnosis of Oligohydramnios

Oligohydramnios can be detected through routine ultrasound scans. If a doctor finds that you have oligohydramnios, treatment can vary depending on your unique situation. In some cases, a doctor may simply recommend drinking more water or more frequent scans to monitor the situation. In other cases, amnioinfusion may be advisable to prevent certain complications. Or, in severe cases, it may be best to induce labor early. 

Since oligohydramnios is so easily detectable through regular prenatal exams, it’s important that doctors take appropriate actions right away to address any potential complications.

Contact a Michigan Birth Trauma Lawyer

Far too often, birth trauma occurs as the result of medical negligence. Sometimes, it’s on the main obstetrician, but it can also involve nurses and other medical professionals who attend to the birth and prenatal care of a mother. 

At Goodwin & Scieszka, we have experience taking on medical professionals and facilities and holding them accountable. You’ll be able to get help from a birth trauma lawyer who has helped many people who have been in your shoes. If you believe your child has sustained birth trauma, contact us today to find out how we can help. Even if your child is a few years old, you may still have legal options.

Image: kieferpix / iStock