Prenatal diagnosis of fetal lung maturity in high-risk pregnancies

The objective was to evaluate the accuracy of the foam stability test, lecithin/sphingomyelin (LS) ratio, presence of phosphatidylglycerol (PG) and lung profile (L/S ratio > 1.7 and PG present simultaneously) in 121 consecutive high-risk gestations at the São Paulo Hospital from January 1990 to January 1995. Delivery occurred within 3 days of fetal lung maturation testing. This is a prospective study in which the sensitivity, specificity, positive (PPV) and negative predictive value (NPV) of all the tests were determined. Neonatal respiratory outcome and amniocentesis results were stratified by gestational age for comparison. The distribution of the studied population according to maternal pathology was diabetes mellitus (48), hypertensive disorders (41), Rh isoimmunization (14) and miscellaneous (18). Respiratory distress (RD) was present in 33 infants (27.2%), mainly in the diabetic group. There was no false negative using lung profile (all patients) and foam stability tests among hypertensive pregnancies (specificity 100%), but there were about 20% to 50% false positives in the other tests. Overall, all four tests had a low PPV: 23% for foam test, 51% for L/S ratio, 63% for PG, 61% for lung profile, and high NPV: 92% for foam test, 88% for L/S ratio, 89% for PG and 100% for lung profile. All tests had less accuracy in the diabetic pregnant women. This study shows that the presence of PG and L/S ratio > 1.7 in the amniotic fluid of high-risk pregnancies confirms maturity with a very low risk to develop RD and that the foam stability test was useful as a first-line test to predict the absence of surfactant-deficient respiratory distress syndrome, particularly in hypertensive pregnant women.

Fetal lung maturation; Amniocentesis; Arterial hypertension; Diabetes; Clements test; L/S ratio

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