Severe fetomaternal alloimmune thrombocytopenia presenting with fetal hydrocephalus

Prenat Diagn. 1996 Dec;16(12):1152-5. doi: 10.1002/(SICI)1097-0223(199612)16:12<1152::AID-PD8>3.0.CO;2-J.


We report two patients where the finding of isolated fetal hydrocephalus led to the detection of severe fetal thrombocytopenia, using fetal blood sampling. Serological investigation led to the diagnosis of fetomaternal alloimmune thrombocytopenia (FMAIT) due to anti-HPA-1a. Both women had had previous unsuccessful pregnancies probably due to FMAIT; one had had four miscarriages at 17-18 weeks' gestation. The other had had one previous pregnancy complicated by severe fetal anaemia, and eventually hydrocephalus developed and the fetus died without the diagnosis of FMAIT being considered. Subsequent pregnancies in the two women were also affected by FMAIT, but prenatal treatment, predominantly with serial fetal platelet transfusions, resulted in a successful outcome in both cases. These observations suggest that FMAIT should be suspected if there is isolated fetal hydrocephalus, unexplained fetal anaemia, or recurrent miscarriages. The accurate diagnosis of FMAIT is important because recent advances in prenatal management can improve the outcome of subsequently affected pregnancies.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Habitual / etiology
  • Abortion, Spontaneous / etiology
  • Anemia / etiology
  • Antigens, Human Platelet / immunology*
  • Female
  • Fetal Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Fetal Diseases / etiology
  • Humans
  • Hydrocephalus / etiology*
  • Isoantibodies / immunology*
  • Maternal-Fetal Exchange
  • Prednisolone / therapeutic use
  • Pregnancy
  • Thrombocytopenia / diagnosis*
  • Thrombocytopenia / immunology*
  • Thrombocytopenia / prevention & control


  • Antigens, Human Platelet
  • ITGB3 protein, human
  • Isoantibodies
  • Prednisolone