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Obstet Gynecol. 1992 Mar;79(3):390-3.

The severely anemic and hydropic isoimmune fetus: changes in fetal hematocrit associated with intrauterine death.

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Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Science, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, New York.


Hydrops caused by isoimmune hemolytic anemia is frequently associated with fetal death following intrauterine intravascular transfusion. To identify possible predictors of procedure-related fetal death, we examined changes in fetal blood volume and hematocrit resulting from the initial transfusion performed on 19 severely anemic, hydropic fetuses. Seven fetuses (36.8%) died at 24-72 hours after transfusion, but in no case was the procedure associated with fetal distress. There were no significant differences between fetuses who died and those who survived in terms of total volume of blood transfused, volume transfused as a percentage of total fetoplacental blood volume, hematocrit of transfused blood, post-transfusion hematocrit, umbilical vein pH, or gestational age at transfusion. Significant differences were noted between hydropic fetuses who died compared with those who survived in the mean pretransfusion hematocrit, 6.7% (+/- 2.0) versus 8.7% (+/- 1.6) (P = .03), and the relative increase in post- over pre-transfusion hematocrit, 5.5-fold (+/- 1.4) versus 3.5-fold (+/- 0.8) (P = .001). Stepwise logistic regression analysis confirmed that only the relative increase in hematocrit was predictive of fetal loss. Moreover, six of seven fetal deaths occurred when the relative increase in hematocrit was greater than fourfold, whereas ten of 12 surviving fetuses had relative increases of less than fourfold. We conclude that large, acute increases in fetal hematocrit following intrauterine transfusion are associated with substantial mortality in hydropic fetuses.

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