Although the first reported case of amniotic fluid embolism (AFE) was documented in 1926,11 a historic event that received much public and medical attention predates that case by more than 100 years. Public records indicate that in 1817 an obstetrician named Sir Richard Croft was widely criticized because of the unexpected death of one of his patients and her unborn son. The patient was Princess Charlotte of Wales, and the condemnation and grief Croft experienced because of this loss apparently led him to commit suicide. Investigations, continuing at least until the 1970s, strongly suggest that the princess died of AFE, possibly absolving Sir Richard of mismanagement of a difficult labor and highlighting a senseless third tragedy.22 

Even today, AFE is the leading cause of death during labor and the first few postpartum hours,33...

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