The neonatal outcomes of 30 pregnancies that were complicated by premature and prolonged rupture of the membranes that had started in the second trimester of pregnancy, were reviewed. The neonatal mortality was 11 (36%), the main cause of death being pulmonary hypoplasia. Two infants died of sepsis, but these were the only proved episodes of maternal or fetal infection. Of the survivors, 27% developed compressive limb abnormalities, all of which responded to passive physiotherapy. Pulmonary hypoplasia was significantly associated with earlier onset of rupture of the membranes, and the absence of fetal breathing movements. Compressive limb abnormalities were significantly associated with longer periods of oligohydramnios. We conclude that premature rupture of the membranes, even with onset in the second trimester, may be associated with a favourable outcome and this may be predicted by the persistence of fetal breathing movements. We therefore, recommend expectant management of such pregnancies, but suggest elective delivery at 34 weeks to limit fetal exposure to uterine compression and minimise the risks of prematurity.
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