The effect of clinical characteristics on the lecithin/sphingomyelin ratio and lamellar body count: A cross-sectional study

L. D.E. Wijnberger, M. De Kleine, H. A.M. Voorbij, B. Arabin, J. J.C.M. Van De Leur, H. W. Bruinse, G. H.A. Visser, P. M.M. Bossuyt, B. W.J. Mol

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Objectives: To study the changes in the lecithin/sphingomyelin (L/S) ratio and lamellar body count (LBC) during pregnancy and to study the effect of clinical characteristics on these measurements. Methods: We reviewed in retrospect the amniotic fluid samples for the assessment of fetal lung maturity of consecutive women between January 1996 and December 2000. We evaluated the effect of antenatal administration of glucocorticoids, the presence of diabetes, fetal growth restriction and the amount of amniotic fluid on the L/S ratio and LBC. We then constructed normal curves, by relating the L/S ratio and LBC to gestational age in the cases without respiratory distress syndrome (RDS). Data from the literature were added to these curves. Results: From the 334 included women, 64 infants (19%) developed RDS. The LBC was lower in women with polyhydramnios (p = 0.04), and similar in women with oligohydramnios. Administration of glucocorticoids, the presence of maternal diabetes or fetal growth restriction did not affect the L/S ratio or the LBC. The median L/S ratio in cases without RDS showed a constant increase from a gestational age of 28 weeks onwards. The median LBC increased slowly between a gestational age of 28 weeks and 34 weeks, to increase more steeply thereafter. Conclusions: The amount of amniotic fluid affects the LBC, but not the L/S ratio. Since the L/S ratio and the LBC increase with gestation, differences in gestational age should be taken into account in the interpretation of these fetal lung maturity tests.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)373-382
Number of pages10
JournalThe Journal of Maternal-Fetal and Neonatal Medicine
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Amniotic fluid
  • Diabetes
  • Gestational age
  • Glucocorticoids
  • Lamellar body count
  • Lecithin/sphingomyelin ratio

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