Fetal breathing activity was monitored by ultrasonography in 14 patients with oligohydramnios (4 with fetal anuria and 10 with premature rupture of the membranes). 45 patients with intact membranes, with normal amniotic fluid volume, and matched for gestational age were the controls. Fetal breathing movements were seen in all 8 patients who died in the perinatal period with a necropsy diagnosis of lung hypoplasia. While patients with premature rupture of the membranes (irrespective of outcome) spent the same or less time breathing than controls, fetuses with renal anomalies, oligohydramnios, and lung hypoplasia spent more time breathing than controls. The observation of fetal breathing activity is not helpful in identifying patients with oligohydramnios at risk of lung hypoplasia.
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