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Pronounced: oh-lig-oh-HI-dram-knee-ohs


Oligohydramnios is a lower than normal level of amniotic fluid. This fluid supports and protects the baby. It also helps with growth. Low levels can lead to problems for the baby and mother.

Fetus in Utero, Amniotic Fluid

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The cause may not be known.

Some causes are:

  • Birth defects
  • Problems with the fetus's urinary system
  • A problem with the placenta
  • A tear in the amniotic sac
  • Pregnancy that lasts past the due date
  • Problems in the mother, such as fluid loss, diabetes, or high blood pressure
  • Problems from some medicines

Risk Factors

The risk may be higher with:

  • Pregnancy past the due date
  • Health problems in the mother
  • Growth problems in the baby


The mother may not have symptoms. The mother may notice a gush of fluid from the vagina. The fluid may also leak out slowly.

The mother’s belly may be smaller than it should be.


The doctor will ask about any symptoms and health history. An exam will be done.

An ultrasound will be done to view the womb and fetus.

A measure of the amniotic fluid will be done. It will help to find out if the level is not normal.


The doctor will watch the mother and baby closely. The mother will need to drink more fluids. Tests will also be done to make sure the fluid level does not drop more. This may be all that is needed.

Some women may need:

  • Amnioinfusion—Fluid is injected into the space around the baby
  • Induced birth after 34 weeks

There will be more prenatal visits and tests than normal. It is very important to keep these appointments.


Oligohydramnios cannot always be prevented. Prenatal care may help to find problems before they happen. Make sure to get proper care before, during, and after pregnancy.


The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

American Pregnancy Association


Health Canada

The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada


American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. ACOG Practice Bulletin No. 175: Ultrasound in pregnancy. Obstet Gynecol 2016 Dec;128(6):e241.

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Committee. ACOG committee opinion no. 560: Medically indicated late-preterm and early-term deliveries. Obstet Gynecol. 2013;121(4):908-910. Reaffirmed 2015.

Amniotic fluid abnormalities. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Updated June 5, 2017. Accessed July 2, 2019.

Low amniotic fluid levels: Oligohydramnios. American Pregnancy Association website. Available at: Updated May 26, 2017. Accessed July 2, 2019.

Oligohydramnios. March of Dimes website. Available at: Updated June 2013. Accessed July 2, 2019.

Prenatal ultrasound screening. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Updated February 15, 2018. Accessed July 2, 2019.

Last reviewed June 2019 by EBSCO Medical Review BoardBeverly Siegal, MD, FACOG  Last Updated: 10/2/2019