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Amniotic fluid embolism (AFE) is a rare, potentially fatal, acute and unexpected birth complication that can affect both the mother and fetus. AFE occurs when amniotic fluid enters the maternal circulatory system and causes an allergic-like reaction. Defined as a two-phase response, AFE is characterised initially by rapid respiratory failure that can then progress to cardiac arrest. The second phase is the haemorrhagic phase where the mother begins to bleed profusely at the wound site, which is usually at the site of placental attachment, or caesarean incision. Disseminated intravascular coagulopathy (DIC) (also known as consumptive coagulopathy) then develops, which prevents blood clotting and requires urgent transfusions of blood and blood products.
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