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July 1951


Author Affiliations

From the Department of Pediatrics, Beth-El Hospital.

AMA Am J Dis Child. 1951;82(1):28-31. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1951.02040040035005

THE TERM fetal ascites embraces a variety of conditions associated with watery accumulation in the fetal abdomen. Dorland,1 reviewing the world literature up to 1919, reported 320 cases. Since that time, an additional 18 cases2 of fetal ascites have been reported. In his excellent monograph, Dorland differentiated true fetal ascites, or an accumulation of serum in the fetal peritoneal cavity, from other conditions associated with watery accumulations in the fetal abdomen, namely, fetal urinary retention, generalized anasarca, congenital polycystic kidneys, cystic degenerations of the liver, and fluid distending the genital tract. The cause of true fetal ascites is obscure, but in many cases the condition is associated with malformations of the genital organs and imperforate anus. Fetal peritonitis is also a common finding and may result in ascites either through failure of the thickened peritoneum to reabsorb the normal peritoneal fluid or through an exudation from the inflamed

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