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What could be the reason for a lot of amniotic fluid?

Bradley G. Goldberg, M.D.


Q I'm 28 weeks pregnant. I was monitored due to low fetal activity. Then I had an ultrasound. In the ultrasound it showed that I have A LOT of amniotic fluid and the Dr. wants me to have a level 2 ultrasound. My question is this: What could be the reason for a lot of amniotic fluid? Could this cause any harm to the baby? Could this be a sign of something being wrong with the baby? Thanks for your opinion.

A First of all I want you to be reassured that it sounds like your doctor is handling this situation perfectly. A level II ultrasound and fetal monitoring is the appropriate initial management in these cases.

The condition that you describe of having too much amniotic fluid is referred to medically as "polyhydramnios". We suspect polyhydramnios in pregnant patients when their abdominal size is greater than would be expected for their gestational age. The diagnosis is then confirmed with an ultrasound.

Most cases of polyhydramnios will be "idiopathic", which means that we do not know what the cause is. However, there are several potential causes possible. These include maternal diabetes, neural tube defects, and swallowing problems with the fetus to name just a few.

By naming these conditions I hope not to upset you, and I would like to stress that most of these cases will not likely be associated with any significant problems for the baby. In fact, for mid-trimester polyhydramnios (such as yours) up to 75% of cases will resolve spontaneously without any problems for the fetus.

The degree of potential problems for you or the baby really most depends upon the severity of the polyhydramnios. Some cases will need to be treated with either medication or amniocentesis to remove some of the amniotic fluid. However, for most cases of mild polyhydramnios where the level II ultrasound is normal, and the fetal monitoring is reassuring, no special treatment will be needed.

Bradley G. Goldberg, M.D.,
Chief of Staff, CRMC
Coffee Women's Center, P.C.

Click here to Ask Dr. Goldberg your pregnancy questions.

Dr. Bradley G Goldberg is a specialist in Obstetrics and Gynecology, Dr. Goldberg is certified by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Dr. Goldberg is Chief of Staff of Coffee Regional Medical Center. Currently, he is serving as Director of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and he is the Chairman of the Perinatal Committee. Dr. Goldberg graduated from the University of Florida in 1989 as a member of The Phi Beta Kappa honor society. He received his medical degree from the University of Florida College of Medicine, and completed his internship and residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Georgia Baptist Medical Center in Atlanta.

Dr. Goldberg is a contributing author to, the largest women's health site on the Internet. In addition, Dr. Goldberg is the author of an article on "Urethral Carcinoma," which is in press with the Journal of Urology, and he co-produced an instructional video on Norplant removal that he presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

Dr. Goldberg is a member of the American Medical Association, The American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists, The Medical Association of Georgia, and The Atlanta Medical Association. Dr. Goldberg's wife Kimberly is a pediatric nurse. Together, they enjoy traveling and spending time with their family.

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Samantha Feb 1, 2012 02:27:43 PM ET

I had polyhydraminous when pregnant with my daughter. in fact when they did my c section they managed to collect up 9 litres of fluid, with a fair amount sitll escapong to the floor! it was due to her having a condition called bilateral choanal atresia, which was not diagnosed till after birth. she is now 7 yrs old and is fit and healthy. she had to have 5 bouts of surgery whereby they drilled up her nose to open the airway and insert stents for a period of 3 months. looking at her now youd never know shes ever had anything wrong with her.

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