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What Is Amniotic Band Syndrome And How To Deal With It?

By Shabana

Physical or mental abnormalities in a newborn baby are quite common and it is important to deal with the situation in the right way.

Congenital abnormalities, commonly known as birth defects affect almost 10% of newborns around the world. These defects usually affect the appearance or organ functions. But not all birth defects are dangerous. Some are totally harmless as well.

Defects at birth can be genetic or nongenetic (lifestyle choices, infections during pregnancy, etc). If there is no genetic abnormality present in the family lineage, the baby can still be born with birth defects due to various other factors.

The womb is considered to be the safest place for a foetus. But what if this very place turns dangerous for the developing baby? There are times when small stands of tissue in the womb entangle the growing foetus, causing physical defects. This condition is called amniotic band syndrome. Read on to know more about it.

What Is Amniotic Band Syndrome?

The womb consists of an amniotic sac which is filled with amniotic fluid. The amniotic sac is made up of two layers - the outer layer called the chorion and the inner layer called the amnion. This layer is the closest to the baby. Sometimes, the amnion ruptures unexpectedly. This usually does not cause a problem in the outer layer of the amniotic sac or the chorion.

However, the rupturing of the amnion gives way to a bundle of nerves floating about in the sac, while being attached to its surface. These nerves come in contact with the foetus moving around in the amniotic fluid. This more often than not, results in amputation of the external digits of the foetus, such as fingers on the arms and legs due to restricted blood supply.

This condition is commonly called amniotic band syndrome.

What Causes The Amniotic Band Syndrome?

The amniotic band syndrome is usually caused due to the muscle fibres getting entangled around the growing foetus' delicate body. The main reason for the fibres floating in the amniotic sac is due to the sudden tearing of the inner layer known as amnion.

Many theories exclaim that tests such as amniocentesis or any foetal surgery may cause the amnion to rupture. But there are cases where babies suffer from amniotic band syndrome without going under these procedures. Therefore, doctors and scientists around the world are baffled at the question of how the inner layer can get ruptured without causing an effect on the outer layer.

How Is Amniotic Band Syndrome Diagnosed?

Amniotic band syndrome can easily be diagnosed with an ultrasound, around the third month of the pregnancy. Though the doctors may not be able to identify the muscle fibres causing it as they are extremely fine, ultrasound images can completely be relied on to successfully diagnose the condition.

How Can Amniotic Band Syndrome Be Treated?

Amniotic bands can form a variety of problems in the foetus. While some can be treated through surgeries, some can only be managed.

There are a wide variety of treatments available for different cases of amniotic band syndrome.

If the ultrasound scan reveals an important organ being affected due to the free-flowing amniotic bands, an in utero surgery is required in order to free the organ and reduce damage.

It is a minimally invasive treatment which does not affect the foetus in any way. After surgery, the foetus is kept under close observation to avoid further complications.

Deformities in the fingers of hands and feet can be corrected with surgery post birth, usually at 3-4 months.

With the advent of prosthetics and 3D printing, many children affected with amniotic band syndrome at birth go on to live normal lives.

Is It A Disability In The Child?

If you have given birth to a baby with amniotic band syndrome, do remember that this is not the end of the world. With so much advancement in medicine and technology, the only permanent disability will be of the mind.

It is important to treat the kid just like the normal ones. Instead of teaching them how to live with their disabilities, it is important to bring them up in a way that they see themselves as no lesser than others.

Read more about: pregnancy
Story first published: Tuesday, September 11, 2018, 18:00 [IST]
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