Skip to Content

Amniotic Fluid Embolism (AFE)


An amniotic fluid embolism (AFE) is a medical emergency where the mother’s blood stream is contaminated by amniotic fluid or other fetal debris (cells or hair, for example). This can trigger an allergic reaction, and can cause serious medical problems for the mother and unborn child.

Signs and Symptoms of Amniotic Fluid Embolism

Some reported signals for AFE include large babies going beyond the due date, chills, vomiting, shortness of breath, shock, bleeding, and seizures. In many cases, doctors have between one and three minutes to identify the problem. Resuscitation and emergency cesarean section may be required.

The causes are not well understood, but researchers believe that the membranes must be ruptured, and there must be ruptured uterine or cervical veins. Some possible (though not certain) risk factors include advanced maternal age, placental abruption, placenta previa, preeclampsia, cesarean section and induction.

Injuries Caused by Amniotic Fluid Embolism

An AFE can cause cardiorespiratory (heart and lung) collapse in the mother. This can cause death of the mother or even permanent neurological injury. It can also cause the death of the baby, though not as frequently as maternal death.

Amniotic Fluid Embolism Statistics

This is an extremely rare condition, affecting an approximate 1 in 20,000 deliveries (though, statistics vary widely). 61% of women who have AFE die, most within the first hour of symptoms.

Contact Us

If you or someone you love suffered from an amniotic fluid embolism while pregnant, contact our medical malpractice lawyers at (440) 252-4399 or send us some information through our confidential online form.

Share To: