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Potters Syndrome or Potters Sequence is a group of features that can be the result of too little amniotic fluid surrounding the baby while in the uterus. When a foetus is developing normally it will continually swallow amniotic fluid and the kidneys will process it.

Babies with Potters syndrome have kidney or urinary tract problems meaning they cannot produce the correct amount of urine.  This means there is a low amount of amniotic fluid which can result in underdeveloped lungs. Also the lack of fluid to provide protection from the uterus walls can cause typical facial features (Potter facies). These may include a flattened nose, recessed chin, skin folds covering the corners of the eyes (epicanthal folds) and low-set abnormal ears.

Causes

The cause of Potters syndrome is not always determined but may sometimes be genetic. Diagnosis is often made from the ultrasound showing low amniotic fluid, kidney abnormalities, underdevelopment of the lungs or facial features. Alternatively, diagnosis can occur after the baby is born and showing signs of low amounts of urine or difficulty breathing.

Treatment

The treatment of Potters syndrome will depend on the underlying cause which is tested for at diagnosis. The baby may need to undergo dialysis (removing toxins from the baby’s kidneys), a kidney transplant, surgery to remove an obstruction to the urinary tract, or require resuscitation, ventilation and medication to help breathing or lung development. In some cases, surgery may be available to babies during pregnancy.

Prognosis of babies with Potters Syndrome

The prognosis of babies with Potters syndrome depends on the underlying cause. Unfortunately, many babies do not survive because they have health problems affecting multiple organ systems. However, the chances of survival are increased if the baby’s lungs have had time to mature and if the kidney problems are treatable.

It is important for parents with a baby diagnosed with Potters Syndrome to remain fully informed, even with treatment their baby might not survive. If there is a poor long-term outlook, some parents may decide not to perform extreme life-saving measures. If diagnosed prenatally, a personalised delivery plan may be required to cover any situations that may occur.

A European study has showed that a great many abnormalities of the renal tract can be diagnosed by ultrasound in the second trimester, meaning parents may have the decision to terminate the pregnancy. This is a crucial time for parents to fully understand the potential outlook so that they can make the right decision for their baby and family. Pryers have helped parents claim compensation if their doctors failed to fully inform them, resulting in the avoidable birth of a child with extreme health conditions. Speak to our experts if you would like to know more.

If your baby has been diagnosed with Potters syndrome, we recommend you get advice from your healthcare professionals, but you may also benefit from going to local support groups or talking to other people who have gone through the same experiences. We work with Charlies Angel Centre, a charity who were set up to provide support and counselling to bereaved parents, following the loss of their own ‘Potters Angel’. They offer free counselling, support groups and social events and can help families come to term with complications both pre or post natal.

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