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Am J Obstet Gynecol. 1992 Oct;167(4 Pt 1):950-7.

Adult respiratory distress syndrome in pregnancy.

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  • 1Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Tennessee, Memphis.



Our objective was to determine the causes of adult respiratory distress syndrome in pregnancy, the treatment required, and maternal and perinatal outcomes.


We examined a case series of 16 patients with adult respiratory distress syndrome initially treated in an obstetric intensive care unit. Criteria for the diagnosis were respiratory distress requiring mechanical ventilation and a lung injury score > 2.5.


The incidence of adult respiratory distress syndrome in pregnancy was 1 per 2893 deliveries, occurring primarily in the third trimester. The causes were infection (n = 8), preeclampsia/eclampsia (n = 4), hemorrhage (n = 2), thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (n = 1), and smoke inhalation (n = 1). Most patients (69%) were delivered before or soon after admission to our hospital. Multiple organ failure developed in 12 patients (75%). Complications of mechanical ventilation occurred in 81% of cases. Other complications of intensive care unit support were endocarditis, superior vena cava thrombosis, line sepsis, and bacteremia. Maternal mortality was 44%; perinatal mortality was 20%.


Adult respiratory distress syndrome in pregnancy is associated with a maternal mortality similar to that of studies in the nonpregnant patient. The main causes in pregnancy are hemorrhage, infection, and toxemia. All maternal deaths occurred in patients with multiorgan failure.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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