Fetal blood sampling and pregnancy loss in relation to indication

Br J Obstet Gynaecol. 1991 Sep;98(9):892-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-0528.1991.tb13511.x.


Objective: To assess the relation between the indication for fetal blood sampling and pregnancy loss following the procedure.

Design: Retrospective study.

Setting: The tertiary referral Fetal Medicine Units at Guy's and University College Hospitals, London.

Subjects: Women undergoing diagnostic fetal blood sampling in four groups: (1) 94 having prenatal diagnosis with normal ultrasound findings; (2) 94 with a structural fetal abnormality; (3) 30 having fetal assessment and (4) 35 with non-immune hydrops.

Interventions: Freehand ultrasound guided fetal blood sampling from umbilical cord, intrahepatic vein or fetal heart.

Main outcome measures: Pregnancy losses were divided into those within 2 weeks and those 2 weeks after the procedure, obstetric accidents and neonatal deaths.

Results: The 253 patients had fetal blood sampled on 268 occasions. Fifty-one pregnancies were terminated. Overall, 51 of the remaining 202 desired continuing pregnancies were lost, of which 19 (9%) were lost within 2 weeks of the procedure. After exclusion of the pregnancies that were terminated, the procedure-related losses within 2 weeks of sampling were 1 in 76 (1%), 5 in 76 (7%), 4 in 29 (14%) and 9 in 36 (25%) in groups 1, 2, 3 and 4 respectively.

Conclusions: The risk of fetal blood sampling is increased in abnormal pregnancies, reflecting the underlying pathology and this must be taken into account when counselling patients before the procedure.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Spontaneous / etiology*
  • Blood Specimen Collection / methods*
  • Congenital Abnormalities
  • Female
  • Fetal Blood / chemistry*
  • Fetal Diseases / diagnosis
  • Humans
  • Hydrops Fetalis / diagnosis
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Diagnosis / methods*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk
  • Time Factors