The amniotic fluid that bathes the fetus is necessary for its proper growth and development. It cushions the fetus from physical trauma, permits fetal lung growth, and provides a barrier against infection. Normal amniotic fluid volume varies. The average volume increases with gestational age, peaking at 800-1000 mL, which coincides with 36-37 weeks’ gestation. An abnormally high level of amniotic fluid, polyhydramnios, alerts the clinician to possible fetal anomalies. An inadequate volume of amniotic fluid, oligohydramnios , results in poor development of the lung tissue and can lead to fetal death.
Polyhydramnios occurs in 1% of pregnancies,
whereas oligohydramnios occurs in about 11% of pregnancies.
No age variables are recognized.
In pregnancies affected by polyhydramnios, approximately 20% of neonates are born with a congenital anomaly of some type; therefore, the delivery of these newborns in a tertiary care setting is preferred. This article presents the causes, outcomes, and treatments of polyhydramnios and oligohydramnios, as well as their effects on the developing fetus and neonate.