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What is Potter’s Syndrome?

Potter’s Syndrome is one of several serious or fatal kidney abnormalities.  In Potter’s (or Potter) syndrome the baby’s kidneys do not develop in the first few weeks of life in the womb.  The baby’s kidneys are essential for the production of amniotic fluid in the womb.  If there are no kidneys, there is little or no amniotic fluid (this is known as oligohydramnios) to expand the womb around the baby and to allow the baby to grow and move.  The womb remains small and in its confined space the baby’s lungs cannot develop properly.  Many babies with Potter’s syndrome are stillborn.  In those who are born alive, the immediate cause of death is failure to breathe (respiratory failure) due to underdeveloped (hypoplastic) lungs, usually one or two days after delivery.  Even if this problem is treated the baby cannot survive without kidneys.  (Potter’s syndrome is also known as Renal Agenesis, which simply means that the kidneys did not develop).

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