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J Pediatr Surg. 1990 Jul;25(7):711-4.

Fetal trauma: relation to maternal injury.

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  • 1Fetal Treatment Program, University of California, San Francisco.


Conventional surgical wisdom is that fetal death is a predictable consequence of severe maternal injury. In order to define the natural history of maternal-fetal trauma and better formulate management strategies, we reviewed our recent experience with 32 cases of maternal trauma at a major trauma center. There were three cases of fetal death; two were associated with severe maternal injury, but one had no significant injury to the mother. All cases had placental injury. Conversely, there were five cases of severe maternal trauma but only two unsuccessful pregnancy outcomes. We conclude that the extent of maternal injury does not necessarily correlate with the degree of fetal injury. Lethal placental or direct fetal injury can occur even in the absence of significant maternal injury. In selected cases, fetal salvage after maternal-fetal trauma may be achieved by early delivery and prompt pediatric surgical intervention.

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