Rare Diseases 2022

Fetal hydrops: what é, causes and treatment

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Fetal hydrops: what é, causes and treatment
Fetal hydrops: what é, causes and treatment

Fetal hydrops is a rare disease in which fluid accumulates in various parts of the baby's body during pregnancy, such as the lungs, heart and abdomen. This disease is very serious and difficult to treat and can lead to the death of the baby early in life or to a miscarriage.

In February 2016, dropsy was found in a fetus that also had microcephaly and ended up not surviving the pregnancy. However the link between Zika and hydrops fetalis is still unclear and seems rare, the most serious and common complication of Zika in pregnancy remains microcephaly. Understand the complications of Zika in pregnancy.

What can cause hydrops fetalis

Fetal dropsy can be from non-immune causes or it can be immune, which is when the mother has a negative blood type, such as A-, and the fetus has a positive blood type, such as B+. This difference causes problems between mother and child and must be treated from the beginning to avoid complications. See more at: How negative blood type can affect pregnancy.

Among the causes of the non-immune type are:

  • Fetal problems: changes in heart or lungs;
  • Genetic alterations: Edwards syndrome, Down syndrome, Turner syndrome or alpha-thalassemia;
  • Infections: cytomegalovirus, rubella, herpes, syphilis, toxoplasmosis and parvovirus B-19;
  • Problems in the mother: preeclampsia, diabetes, severe anemia, lack of protein in the blood and Mirror Syndrome, which is a generalized swelling in the body of the mother and fetus.

In addition, this problem can also arise naturally in an apparently he althy pregnancy, without a cause being identified.

How to know if your baby has dropsy

The diagnosis of hydrops fetalis is made from the end of the first trimester of pregnancy through the ultrasound examination during prenatal care, which is able to show excess amniotic fluid and swelling in the placenta and in several regions of the baby's body.

Complications of Dropsy Fetalis

When the fetus has hydrops fetalis, complications can arise that vary according to the part of the body affected. The most serious cases arise when fluid is present in the baby's brain, which can lead to poor development of all organs and systems.

However, dropsy can also affect only one part of the body, such as the lungs, and in this case there are only respiratory complications.Thus, complications are not always the same and each case must be evaluated by the pediatrician, and tests must be performed to prove the severity of the disease and which treatment is most indicated.

How to treat and cure hydrops fetalis

When the disease is discovered during pregnancy, the obstetrician may recommend the use of corticosteroid drugs or drugs that accelerate the baby's development, or may recommend surgery on the fetus while still in the uterus to correct heart or lung problems, when these organs are affected.

In some cases, it may be recommended to deliver an early delivery by cesarean section.

Babies who survive should be treated soon after birth, but treatment depends on how the baby was affected and the severity of the illness, which depends on the cause of the dropsy. In cases of immune hydrops fetalis or when the cause is anemia or parvovirus infection, treatment can be done through blood transfusions, for example.

In cases of mild dropsy a cure can be achieved, however, when the fetus is severely affected there may be a miscarriage, for example.

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