Medical Definition of Hydrops fetalis

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Hydrops fetalis: Gross edema (swelling), usually with anemia, of the fetus. It can be due to Rh blood group incompatibility, in which antibodies crossing the placenta from the mother destroy the red blood cells of the fetus. It can also be caused by a lethal form of the genetic disorder thalassemia, alpha thalassemia, in which alpha-chain polypeptides needed to make fetal or adult hemoglobin are not produced. See also Rh incompatibility; thalassemia, alpha.

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Reviewed on 12/27/2018

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