Fetal CNS damage after exposure to maternal trauma during pregnancy

Acta Paediatr. 1996 Nov;85(11):1331-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1651-2227.1996.tb13920.x.


Nine case reports are presented to indicate the possible effects of maternal trauma on surviving fetuses. Previous reports have only addressed fatal consequences. Traumata occurred between gestational weeks 23 and 37. Seven mothers had motor-vehicle accidents (MVA), two had blunt abdominal traumata. Four mothers suffered severe injuries, such as cerebral contusion, fractures or placental abruption leading to emergency Cesarean section. Premature uterine contractions were observed in five mothers and hemorrhage in two. The nine children were born after 30 to 40 weeks of gestation. Seven had normal postpartal vital signs, one required resuscitation and one premature needed assisted ventilation. Clinical symptoms were variable: movement disorders (n = 3), hydrocephalus (n = 2), convulsions (n = 1), cerebral palsy (n = 1), and normal (n = 3). Follow-up ranged from 7 months to 5 years. Neuroimaging revealed periventricular leukomalacia (n = 2), localized vascular infarctions (n = 2), hemorrhage (n = 1), hydrocephalus (n = 2) and global damage (n = 1). The causative role of maternal accidents was extremely likely in one patient, and probable but unproved in the remaining cases.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Traffic
  • Adult
  • Brain / pathology
  • Brain Injuries / etiology*
  • Female
  • Fetal Diseases / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Maternal Exposure
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications*
  • Pregnancy Outcome
  • Wounds, Nonpenetrating / complications*