What You Need to Know About Amniotic Fluid Embolism

You may have never heard of amniotic fluid embolism (AFE), but if you are pregnant or know someone who is, AFE is a condition that you may want to learn more about. Little has been written or researched about AFE, so you might want to refer to these articles to learn more.

A Primer on Amniotic Fluid Embolism

As described in a recent article published November 26, 2019, in Healthline, here’s why you may want to know more about AFE:

Amniotic fluid embolism (AFE), also known as anaphylactoid syndrome of pregnancy, is a pregnancy complication that causes life-threatening conditions, such as heart failure.

It can affect you, your baby, or both of you. It happens when amniotic fluid (the fluid surrounding your unborn child) or fetal cells, hair, or other debris make their way into your blood.

AFE is rare. Though estimates vary, the AFE Foundation reports the condition occurs in only 1 out of every 40,000 deliveries in North America (and 1 in every 53,800 deliveries in Europe). However, it’s a leading cause of death during labor or shortly after birth.

Digging Deeper into Amniotic Fluid Embolism 

If you’d like more detail, this article by Lisa E Moore, MD, FACOG (Professor, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, Paul L Foster School of Medicine) provides a more clinical overview of AFE. It takes the reader through a more detailed discussion of:

  • Pathophysiology 
  • Etiology
  • Epidemiology
  • Prognosis, and 
  • Patient education 

Amniotic Fluid Embolism Registry

A third article on AFE is this one by the National Organization for Rare Diseases. It provides a good overview but unfortunately underscores that little or no research has been published on AFE and that more research needs to be done:

Due to the rarity of the disease, there are no treatment trials that have been tested on a large group of patients. More research is necessary to determine the long-term safety and effectiveness of various treatments for amniotic fluid embolism proposed in the medical literature.

Of interest, this article discusses an international patient registry of women with amniotic fluid embolism that is being maintained by the AFE Foundation and Baylor College of Medicine. You may want to check it out.

Support if You Have Amniotic Fluid Embolism 

A great website for those with AFE looking for support and to connect with others who have AFE is https://www.afesupport.org/get-support/

What you need to know about Amniotic Fluid Embolism

And, of course, there is this article written by PPAHS’s clinical nurse consultant, Lynn Razzano, “What you need to know about Amniotic Fluid Embolism,” which discusses why AFE is a condition that warrants greater attention.

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