Hydrops fetalis--has there been a change in diagnostic spectrum and mortality?

J Matern Fetal Neonatal Med. 2011 Feb;24(2):258-63. doi: 10.3109/14767058.2010.483522. Epub 2010 May 7.


Objective: To investigate the impact of medical progress on the diagnostic spectrum and outcome of infants with hydrops fetalis (HF).

Study design: We reviewed the charts of all live-born HF infants (n = 70) over a 16-year period (1993-2009). Data were compared to two published case series (Wafelman LS, Pollock BH, Kreutzer J, Richards DS, Hutchison AA. Biol Neonate 1999;75:73-81, Gainesville, Florida 1983-1992, n = 62; Simpson JH, McDevitt H, Young D, Cameron AD. Fetal Diagn Ther 2006;21:380-382, Glasgow, UK 1990-2004, n = 30).

Results: Only two cases were immune HF. The proportion of infants with unexplained HF (30%), lymphatic (24%), cardiac (17%), hematological (6%) or chromosomal anomalies (6%) did not differ from the published case series. There was also no difference in overall mortality (57% vs. 55% or 67%, respectively). Low gestational age (<34 weeks), low 5-min Apgar scores (<4), and heart failure were independently associated with fatality.

Conclusion: The diagnostic spectrum and mortality of HF has changed little over the last 25 years. In the future, new techniques in mutational analysis will be needed to reduce the high rate of unexplained cases of HF.

MeSH terms

  • Birth Rate
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Florida / epidemiology
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Hydrops Fetalis / diagnosis*
  • Hydrops Fetalis / etiology*
  • Hydrops Fetalis / mortality*
  • Infant Mortality / trends*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Newborn, Diseases / diagnosis
  • Infant, Newborn, Diseases / mortality
  • Male
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Pregnancy
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Survival Analysis
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology