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Fetomaternal Hemorrhage

Wylie, Blair J. MD, MPH; D'Alton, Mary E. MD

doi: 10.1097/AOG.0b013e3181da7929
Clinical Expert Series
Expert Discussion
Spanish Translation

Fetomaternal hemorrhage refers to the entry of fetal blood into the maternal circulation before or during delivery. Antenatal fetomaternal hemorrhage is a pathological condition with a wide spectrum of clinical variation. Secondary to the resultant anemia, fetomaternal hemorrhage may have devastating consequences for the fetus such as neurologic injury, stillbirth, or neonatal death. Presentation is frequently without an evident precipitating factor. Recognition may become apparent only after injury has occurred, if at all. The most common antenatal presentation is decreased fetal activity and a heightened index of suspicion is warranted in cases of persistent maternal perception of decreased fetal movements. The diagnostic standard, the Kleihauer-Betke screen, has several limitations. Management remains challenging. When detected antenatally, cordocentesis with intrauterine transfusion may be attempted to correct the anemia; however, repeat intrauterine transfusion or delivery may be necessitated to correct ongoing bleeding. Although the occurrence of large antenatal fetomaternal hemorrhage is fortunately rare, this entity likely remains underreported and underrecognized. A national registry should be created to advance our learning across institutions by reviewing the clinical presentations of fetomaternal hemorrhage, the variety of fetal heart rate tracings observed, the management strategies undertaken, and the outcomes achieved.

The diagnosis of antenatal fetomaternal hemorrhage remains elusive, its etiology enigmatic, and its management unclear; yet, the fetal consequences are potentially devastating.

From the Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts; and the Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Columbia University Medical Center, New York, New York.

See related case report on page 1036.

Continuing medical education is available for this article at http://links.lww.com/AOG/A175.

Corresponding author: Blair J. Wylie, MD, MPH, Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Massachusetts General Hospital, 55 Fruit Street, Founders 4, Boston, MA 02114; e-mail: bwylie@partners.org.

Financial Disclosure The authors did not report any potential conflicts of interest.

© 2010 by The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Published by Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.