Amniotic Fluid Embolism:

Latest Concepts and Current Research

This site is intended to provide background on Amniotic Fluid Embolism and give readers information about on-going research about this leading cause of maternal mortality in developed countries.

Future Research



She did NOT have AFE.  Her vaginal birth was normal.  WHY?  We do not know.


            Amniotic Fluid Embolism kills or injures several hundred mother-baby pairs in the United States every year.   Research is needed to understand the cause of the disease so that it can be prevented or more effectively treated.  Yet the importance of AFE extends far beyond its devastated victims.  At the present, there are no broadly accepted theories or mechanisms explaining how women can tolerate the presence of their fetus—50% of which comes from an unrelated father.  IF AFE does represent a maternal immune response to the baby, why don’t all mothers develop an allergic response?  Mothers cannot necessarily receive blood safely from their children nor can they invariably accept tissue transplants from their offspring.  Yet they routinely tolerate the presences of several pounds of foreign tissue during pregnancy with no apparent ill affect?  How is this possible?  The answer is key to progress on cancer, other diseases of pregnancy, autoimmune disease and transplantation biology.  It remains one of the leading mysteries confronting 21rst century biology.  It is hoped that AFE research, in which the apparent abnormal activation of the human immune system occurs, can help both its victims as well as answer the question, how can healthy pregnancies occur in the first place?


            The emphasis of this research is on:

Ø      Developing/identifying specific laboratory tests that are both sensitive and specific for AFE.

Ø      Identifying the molecular basis of disease so that prevention, prediction, and treatment can be improved and specifically targeted for AFE.

Ø      Improving the understanding of immune tolerance in general to benefit research and treatment of other disease processes—both within pregnancy and outside of pregnancy.