Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital
 

Hydrops Fetalis

High-Risk Newborns - Hydrops Fetalis

What is hydrops fetalis?

Hydrops fetalis is a severe, life-threatening problem of severe edema (swelling) in the fetus and newborn. It is also called hydrops. There are two types of hydrops:

What causes hydrops fetalis?

Hydrops develops when too much fluid leaves the bloodstream and goes into the tissues. Many different diseases and complications can cause hydrops, including the following:

Who is affected by hydrops fetalis?

Immune hydrops is not as common as it used to be since the widespread use of Rh immunoglobulin treatment for Rh negative women. Non-immune hydrops occurs rarely. Premature babies with hydrops are at increased risk. The incidence of hydrops can vary between populations.

Why is hydrops fetalis a concern?

The severe edema that occurs with hydrops can overtake the baby's organ systems. About half of unborn babies with hydrops do not survive. Risks are also high for babies born with hydrops, with survival often depending on the cause and treatment.

What are the symptoms of hydrops fetalis?

The following are the most common symptoms of hydrops fetalis. However, each baby may experience symptoms differently.

During pregnancy, symptoms may include:

After birth, symptoms may include:

The symptoms of hydrops fetalis may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Always consult your baby's doctor for a diagnosis.

How is hydrops fetalis diagnosed?

In addition to a complete medical history and physical examination, diagnostic procedures for hydrops fetalis may include:

Treatment for hydrops fetalis

Specific treatment for hydrops fetalis will be determined by your baby's doctor based on:

Treatment of hydrops depends on the cause. During pregnancy, hydrops may be treatable only in certain situations. Early delivery may be recommended. Management of hydrops in newborn babies may include:

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