ballantyne syndrome

Complications during pregnancy can be scary. Swelling and high blood pressure are somewhat common during pregnancy, and can be trying for the mother. They can also be signs of more serious conditions for mom or baby.

Mirror Syndrome

One condition that you may not have heard of is Mirror Syndrome, also known as Ballantyne Syndrome or triple edema. Mirror syndrome happens when the fetus has an abnormal buildup of fluid, while the mother has preeclampsia, a condition of high blood pressure.

It is often called Mirror Syndrome because of the similarity in symptoms between the mother and baby.

Mirror Syndrome Symptoms

Symptoms of Mirror Syndrome include:

  • Severe swelling
  • High blood pressure
  • Excessive weight gain over a short time
  • Protein in urine

These are also common symptoms of preeclampsia. One sign that signals mirror syndrome is hemodilution, which is found during a blood test. Hemodilution is when there is more plasma in the blood and a lower amount of red blood cells. It is usually caused by an increase of fluid.

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Mirror syndrome causes and complications

Mirror Syndrome is usually caused by fetal hydrops, which is the collection of fluid in the fetus. The fluid can build up beneath the skin, in the stomach, around the lungs, or around the heart.

Fetal hydrops may be caused by:

  • Heart problems
  • Metabolic disorders
  • Anemia
  • Infections
  • Genetic syndromes

Twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome is another possible cause of hydrops. The fluid buildup will likely be seen and diagnosed during an ultrasound.

These problems with the fetus can lead to the preeclampsia symptoms in the mother. She may also experience fluid build up in the lungs.

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Mirror syndrome treatment

Mirror syndrome is extremely rare, and treatment varies greatly by situation. Having highly experienced clinical staff available who can recognize and manage complex or rare conditions offers hope for treatment.

If the cause of fetal hydrops is known and can be treated in the womb, the symptoms may clear up for mom and baby for the remainder of the pregnancy. In many cases, as with preeclampsia, immediate delivery is recommended to protect the mother’s health. Symptoms in the mother will disappear within a few days.

After delivery, neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) staff will work to determine the cause of hydrops and treat the infant whenever possible.

Mirror Syndrome is serious for the mother and baby, but staff at Magee-Womens Hospital, which has the state’s largest high-risk delivery unit, and Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh at UPMC have successfully treated fetal hydrops. This collaboration provides mom and baby with the latest technology and best chance for recovery.

Want to learn more about maternal fetal medicine and preterm birth? Check out our Medical Monday’s post on Newborn Medicine.