Premature rupture of the membranes, presenting as leakage of fluid from the genital tract, is another key symptom in pregnancy. If this occurs before 20 weeks gestation, the risk of premature delivery, lung hypoplasia (failure to develop) and limb deformity, are very high.
Later in pregnancy the risk of an associated of concurrent infection (chorioamnionitis) is a constant concern, because of the poor outcome for both mother and child in these circumstances.
Premature rupture of the membranes is managed expectantly, unless there is evidence of infection or impending infection. In these circumstances antibiotic cover and delivery will be recommended. When the membranes rupture at term management is again expectant for the first 24 or 48 hours. Because of the risk of ascending infection (chorioamnionitis) induction and delivery is recommend after this time.