Human amniotic fluid mathematical model: Determination and effect of intramembranous sodium flux

M. A. Curran, M. J.M. Nijland, S. E. Mann, M. G. Ross

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

21 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: A recently described mathematical model of human amniotic fluid dynamics used known and estimated rates of fetal fluid production (lung liquid and urine) and composition (osmolality) to enable calculation of previously unmeasured routes of amniotic fluid resorption, including fetal swallowing and intramembranous (across the amnion) water flow. This 'osmolar' model assumed that only free water resorption occurred across the intramembranous route. We hypothesized that intramembranous flow also may include solutes and electrolytes because significant concentration gradients exist between amniotic fluid and fetal plasma. We used mass balance analysis to determine the direction and magnitude of intramembranous sodium flux and to assess the ability of a newly described 'sodium' model to predict changes in amniotic fluid volume in response to changes in intramembranous electrolyte flow. Mathematical modeling was used to predict changes in amniotic fluid volume in response to changes in intramembranous electrolyte flow. STUDY DESIGN: Model predictions were calculated using published values for human amniotic fluid and fetal urine composition and volume. Ovine studies were used to derive lung fluid volumes and composition. Fetal swallowing and intramembranous flow were independently determined using net amniotic fluid osmolar (osmolality model) and sodium (sodium model) balance. Differences between osmolality and sodium model predictions were normalized to calculate the net intramembranous sodium flux, assuming a net balance of intramembranous osmotic solute flow. RESULTS: Both sodium and osmolality models predicted swallowed volume to be greater than intramembranous flow until 28 to 32 weeks' gestation, after which the relationship reversed. However, the sodium model predicted greater intramembranous flow and lower swallowing rates compared with the osmolality model at all gestational ages. Osmolar mass balance required daily intramembranous sodium flux into the amniotic fluid, which increased with gestational age. Furthermore, assuming stable swallowing and intramembranous water flow, the model predicts that 5% increases or decreases in amniotic fluid solute concentrations caused by intramembranous flux result in polyhydramnios or oligohydramnios, respectively. CONCLUSION: Sodium and osmolality models demonstrate similarities in determinations of amniotic fluid dynamics. However, mass balance equations demonstrate a net intramembranous flow of sodium into the amniotic fluid under normal conditions. Mathematical modeling suggests that small alterations in daily intramembranous sodium flux may evoke large changes in amniotic fluid volume.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)484-490
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 1 1998
Externally publishedYes



  • Amniotic fluid
  • Fetal swallowing
  • Intramembranous flow
  • Oligohydramnios
  • Polyhydramnios
  • Sodium flux

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology

Cite this