Fetal outcomes of critically ill pregnant women admitted to the intensive care unit for nonobstetric causes

Crit Care Med. 2008 Oct;36(10):2746-51. doi: 10.1097/ccm.0b013e318186b615.


Introduction: The outcome of the fetus in critically ill mothers has been briefly reported as a part of descriptive studies focusing on maternal risk factors for admission to the intensive care unit. We evaluated the risk factors for adverse fetal outcomes in critically ill pregnant women admitted to the intensive care unit for nonobstetrical reasons.

Design: Retrospective cohort study of all critically ill pregnant patients >18 yr; admitted to four (medical, surgical, trauma, and mixed medical-surgical) intensive care units at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN; during the period of January 1995 to December 2005. Only pregnant women admitted to the intensive care unit in the antepartum period for nonobstetrical indications were included. Main predictors for fetal outcomes included: maternal comorbidities, obstetrical history, intensive care unit interventions, and intensive care unit complications. Fetal outcomes were defined as spontaneous abortions, neonatal mortality, fetal deaths, admission to the neonatal intensive care unit, neonatal intensive care unit length of stay, and neonatal intensive care unit complications.

Results: A total of 153 adult women (>18 yr) with a diagnosis of pregnancy were admitted to the intensive care unit, of whom 93 pregnant women met the inclusion criteria. Median maternal age was 26 yr (interquartile range 22-33) and median gestational age was 25 wk (interquartile range 8-33). The median maternal Acute Physiologic and Chronic Health Evaluation III score was 27 (interquartile range 17-38). There were 32 fetal losses; 18 were spontaneous abortions and 14 were fetal deaths. Ten neonates required neonatal intensive care unit admission, five for respiratory distress syndrome; and only one neonate died. The median neonatal intensive care unit length of stay was 34 days (interquartile range 15-87). After multivariable logistic regression analysis, the risk factors associated with fetal loss were: presence of maternal shock, odds ratio 6.85 (95% confidence interval 1.16-58, p = 0.04); maternal transfusion of blood products, odds ratio 7.24 (95% confidence interval 1.4-49, p = 0.02); and gestational age, odds ratio 1.2 for every gestational week below 37 wk (95% confidence interval 1.1-1.3, p < 0.001).

Conclusions: Nonobstetrical critical illness in pregnant women significantly affects fetal and neonatal outcomes. Maternal shock, maternal requirement of allogenic blood product transfusion and lower gestational age were associated with an increased risk of fetal loss.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cohort Studies
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Critical Illness / mortality*
  • Critical Illness / therapy
  • Female
  • Fetal Development / physiology
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Gestational Age
  • Hospital Mortality / trends
  • Humans
  • Infant Mortality / trends*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Newborn, Diseases / diagnosis
  • Infant, Newborn, Diseases / mortality
  • Intensive Care Units*
  • Logistic Models
  • Maternal Mortality / trends*
  • Odds Ratio
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Outcome
  • Pregnancy, High-Risk*
  • Probability
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Assessment
  • Statistics, Nonparametric