Is Debris in the Amniotic Fluid Dangerous?

Jane Foley's picture

QUESTION

Dear Ms Ultrasound,
I'm 36-weeks pregnant and had an ultrasound done yesterday. The report said there was a small amount of debris in the fluid. Can this debris harm the baby?

My mom said the baby could swallow it and choke? Is she over reacting, or do I need to be concerned?

ANSWER

It is quite common to see debris floating in the amniotic fluid in the late stage of pregnancy. There are a number of terms for this debris. The most common is Vernix or Vernix Caseosa.

Perhaps your Mom is thinking of meconium. This is present in the intestines from the second trimester. It consists of swallowed amniotic fluid, vernix caseosa, glandular secretions, and bile. The meconium becomes brighter on an ultrasound the closer you get to delivery. Your Mom may be trying to explain that some babies can aspirate the meconium during delivery. The baby doesn't choke in utero.

I would ask your doctor if you should be concerned about the amount seen, since I can't tell exactly what they saw. I can tell you it is something we see all the time in late pregnancy, and not to get too concerned over this finding.

-- Jane, RDMS