Research Article

Amniotic fluid cell morphology in early antenatal prediction of abortion and low birth weight.

Br Med J 1978; 2 doi: (Published 28 October 1978) Cite this as: Br Med J 1978;2:1186
  1. C Gosden,
  2. D J Brock


    The morphology of rapidly adherent (RA) amniotic fluid cells was examined in 201 pregnant women referred for amniocentesis because of two sequential high serum alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) concentrations. Out of 43 amniotic fluid samples containing increased amounts of AFP, 42 had neural or peritoneal cells predominating among the RA cells, the outcome being an infant with a neural-tube defect or exomphalos. In the other case with a raised amniotic fluid AFP concentration but only anterior placental cells the infant was normal. In 25 amniotic fluid samples containing normal amounts of AFP distinctive new patterns of RA cells were observed, termed fetal distress cells. These pregnancies resulted in five spontaneous abortions and 20 infants with birth weights under 2500 g. Fetal distress cells were not detected in any of the remaining 133 samples. One pregnancy was terminated because of a chromosomal abnormality, and there were seven twin pairs not recognised on ultrasonography before amniocentesis. The remaining 125 pregnancies went to term, resulting in infants with birth weights exceeding 2500 g. The results suggest that RA-cell morphology will prove to be of value in the early antenatal prediction of spontaneous abortion and low birth weight.