Amniotic fluid embolism occurs when some amniotic fluid—the fluid that surrounds the fetus in the uterus—enters the woman's bloodstream, usually during a particularly difficult labor.
Amniotic fluid embolism is very rare. Risk is increased when
The fluid can cause a serious reaction in the woman. She may have a rapid heart rate and an irregular heart rhythm. She may collapse or go into shock or even cardiac arrest. About 13 to 44% of women with amniotic fluid embolism die. Widespread blood clotting (disseminated intravascular coagulation), sometimes also with bleeding, is a common complication, requiring emergency care (see see Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation (DIC)).
Prompt diagnosis and treatment are essential. Doctors diagnose this problem based on symptoms.
Women may be given a transfusion of blood and blood components. Injection of a blood clotting factor (which helps blood clot) may be lifesaving. Women may require assistance with breathing or drugs to help the heart contract.
Last full review/revision June 2013 by Julie S. Moldenhauer, MD