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Potter Syndrome: A rare condition that affects kidneys in an unborn baby

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As an expecting mom, you must be doing everything to welcome your little one. Right from buying clothes to decorating your baby’s room, you must have planned it all. Amid all the happiness and plans to celebrate your child’s arrival, don’t skip hospital visits. It’s during that time that you’ll get to know whether your baby is healthy or not. It’s not common, but Potter Syndrome might create obstacles in your unborn child’s health. A lot of times it’s even deadly for babies. Let’s find out about this rare condition that affects the growth and function of a baby’s kidneys.

HealthShots consulted Dr Nitin M, consultant- paediatrician and neonatologist, Motherhood Hospitals, Electronic City, Bengaluru to know more about potter syndrome (rare diseases in newborns).

potter syndrome
Potter Syndrome affects the growth of your baby’s kidneys. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

What is Potter Syndrome?

Dr Nitin explains that Potter Syndrome is a rare condition that affects the growth as well as function of a baby’s kidneys, leading to a lack of amniotic fluid in the uterus. This results in characteristic physical features, such as wrinkled skin, low set ears, a flat nose, and separated eyes with epicanthal folds. It can also cause the early rupture of the membranes. According to National Library of Medicine, it is a rare condition with an overall prevalence rate of just one per 2000 to 5000 births. It’s been noticed that it is more prevalent in boys than in girls.

Can a baby survive Potter Syndrome?

It all depends on the severity of the condition. If the lack of amniotic fluid affects the development and function of major organs, the chances of survival are low. However, infants with mild symptoms can be treated and may have an improved life expectancy over time, says the expert.

As per StatPearls, the outcome of Potter Syndrome in most cases is poor. All the babies born with this condition are either stillborn or die soon after their birth. A newborn associated with hypoplastic lungs are especially at a very high risk. The main cause of death is because of a respiratory distress syndrome within hours or just days after birth.

potter syndrome
Outcome of Potter Syndrome in most cases is poor. Image courtesy: shutterstock

Causes of Potter Syndrome

The causes of Potter Syndrome are mostly related to kidney. They include underdeveloped or missing kidneys, polycystic kidney disease, blockages of the urinary tract, and leakage of amniotic fluid due to ruptured membranes.

When can Potter Syndrome be diagnosed?

It can be diagnosed through a thorough physical examination of the mother and the foetus. An ultrasound can help the doctor visualise the developmental structures, such as the kidneys and the presence of amniotic fluid, which provides support and cushioning to the developing fetus (light exposure on mother’s belly may be important for the foetus). So, make sure to clear all your doubts about your baby’s health during hospital visits.

There are no known preventive measures for Potter Syndrome, but expecting mothers can exercise caution (dos and don’ts for pregnant women). They can receive regular prenatal care, which includes physical examinations and tests to help the doctor plan for a safer delivery and identify any potential issues early on. Early diagnosis can help in planning appropriate treatment options to help the baby survive after birth.

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