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Am J Obstet Gynecol. 1994 Oct;171(4):931-5.

Prophylactic amnioinfusion for meconium-stained amniotic fluid.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Harbor-University of California, Los Angeles, Medical Center, Torrance 90509.



Previous studies have demonstrated reduced perinatal morbidity in patients receiving amnioinfusion for meconium-stained amniotic fluid compared with control patients receiving no amnioinfusion. Because amnioinfusion for variable fetal heart rate decelerations has become accepted care, we sought to determine the benefit of prophylactic amnioinfusion for meconium compared with standard care, incorporating therapeutic amnioinfusion for variable decelerations.


Ninety-three term patients with moderate to heavy meconium and no variable fetal heart rate decelerations were randomized to immediate prophylactic amnioinfusion (600 ml saline solution bolus followed by 3 ml/min) or to standard care (including therapeutic amnioinfusion for variable decelerations developing later). All babies had DeLee suctioning on delivery of the head. Laryngeal cords were visualized and tracheal suctioning performed when meconium was seen below the cords. Statistical comparisons were performed using Student t test, Fisher's exact test, or chi 2 analysis.


There were no significant differences in the incidence of operative delivery, fetal distress, or meconium below the cords or in newborn Apgar scores and umbilical artery gas values between the amnioinfusion (n = 43) and control (n = 50) patients. There were four cases of meconium aspiration, three in the amnioinfusion group, one in the standard care group. The rate of endometritis-chorioamnionitis was higher (p = 0.3) in the amnioinfusion (16%) than in the control group (8%), although time from ruptured membranes to delivery (8.5 hours vs 7.3 hours) and duration of intrauterine monitoring (6.1 hours vs 5.3 hours) were not different.


Although amnioinfusion does dilute amniotic meconium, prophylactic amnioinfusion for meconium in the absence of variable decelerations remains controversial. Prophylactic amnioinfusion in term pregnancies did not improve perinatal outcome and increased the risk for chorioamnionitis-endometritis. Together with recent reports, the current data suggest that the benefit of amnioinfusion for meconium-stained amniotic fluid is a result of the alleviation of variable fetal heart rate decelerations rather than meconium dilution.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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