Amniotic fluid embolism: decreased mortality in a population-based study

Obstet Gynecol. 1999 Jun;93(6):973-7. doi: 10.1016/s0029-7844(99)00004-6.


Objective: To examine the risk factors and pregnancy outcomes associated with 53 cases of amniotic fluid embolism that occurred in California during the 2-year period January 1, 1994 to December 31, 1995.

Methods: Data were obtained from a computerized database that contains linked records from the vital statistics birth certificate and hospital discharge summaries of both mother and newborn. This database covered all singleton deliveries that occurred in 328 civilian acute-care hospitals in California, which represented 98% of all deliveries in California. All cases of amniotic fluid embolism were examined for other pregnancy complications.

Results: There were 1,094,248 deliveries during that 2-year period. Fifty-three singleton gestations had the diagnosis of amniotic fluid embolism, for a population frequency of one per 20,646 deliveries. Fourteen women with amniotic fluid embolism died, for a maternal mortality rate of 26.4%. There were 35 (66%) diagnoses of disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC), 38 (72%) diagnoses of hemorrhage, and 25 (47%) diagnoses of obstetric shock. Among the 14 women who died, the frequency of DIC (79%) and hemorrhage (71%) was not different compared with that of the survivors (62% and 72%, respectively), but obstetric shock was higher (86%, P = .02) than in survivors (33%). The average maternal length of stay for survivors was 6.5 days (range 3-27 days, median 5 days). The cesarean rate was 60% and the frequency of fetal distress was 49%.

Conclusion: In this population-based study of reported cases of amniotic fluid embolism, the maternal mortality rate (26.4%) was significantly less than previously reported and might reflect a more accurate population frequency. In addition, patients who survived and patients who died had similar pregnancy complications, suggesting that amniotic fluid embolism was present in all cases and not limited to those who died.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Embolism, Amniotic Fluid / mortality*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Outcome*
  • Risk Factors