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What is an Amniotic Fluid Embolism?

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Updated July 06, 2009

Question: What is an Amniotic Fluid Embolism?
Answer: Amniotic Fluid Embolism is a condition that occurs during labor, when amniotic fluid -- the liquid that bathes the developing embryo inside the placenta -- escapes into the mother’s circulation and causes a blockage of one of the pulmonary arteries.

This prevents blood from becoming replenished with oxygen in the lungs. This dangerous event can lead to respiratory arrest and even death. In some cases, amniotic fluid embolisms can lead to paradoxical stroke.

Amniotic fluid embolisms are extremely rare events.

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