Recognition and management of traumatic fetal injuries

APSA Fetal Diagnosis and Therapy Committee

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Trauma during pregnancy is the leading non-obstetric cause of morbidity and mortality, and accounts for five per 1000 fetal deaths. Direct fetal injury due to trauma during pregnancy is rare, and limited information is available about how to optimize fetal outcomes after injury. Early recognition and appropriate management of direct fetal trauma may improve outcomes for the fetus. There are currently no available guidelines to direct management of the injured fetus. We provide a detailed literature review of the management and outcomes of direct fetal injury following blunt and penetrating injury during pregnancy, and describe a suggested initial approach to the injured pregnant patient with a focus on evaluation for fetal injury. We identified 45 reported cases of blunt trauma resulting in direct fetal injury, with 21 surviving past the neonatal period, and 33 of penetrating trauma resulting in direct fetal injury, with 24 surviving past the neonatal period. Prenatal imaging identified fetal injury in 19 cases of blunt trauma and was used to identify bullet location relative to the fetus in 6 cases. These reports were used to develop management algorithms for the injured fetus.

Original languageEnglish (US)
StateAccepted/In press - 2022


  • Fetal injury
  • Fetal trauma
  • Trauma during pregnancy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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