Placental Abruption

Placental abruption occurs when the placenta separates from the uterus before the fetus is delivered. The placenta is the organ that provides nourishment for the fetus while it is still in the uterus. In a healthy pregnancy, the placenta remains attached to the uterine wall until after the fetus is delivered. Some form of the condition affects about one in every 150 births. In very severe forms, placental abruption can cause death to the fetus. This occurs less commonly. Death of the mother from placental abruption is very rare. Placental abruption can cause:

  • Causes

    The direct cause of placental abruption is not clearly understood. It may be a combination of several events. These may include:

    • Impaired formation and structure of the placenta
    • Low oxygen levels inside the uterus
    • Rupture of maternal artery or vein which causes bleeding behind the placental wall
    • Injury to the abdomen from an accident or a fall
    • Sudden decrease in the volume of the uterus, from significant loss of amniotic fluid or from
      the delivery of a first twin

  • Definition

    Placental abruption occurs when the placenta separates from the uterus before the fetus is delivered. The placenta is the organ that provides nourishment for the fetus while it is still in the uterus. In a healthy pregnancy, the placenta remains attached to the uterine wall until after the fetus is delivered.

    Some form of the condition affects about one in every 150 births. In very severe forms, placental abruption can cause death to the fetus. This occurs less commonly. Death of the mother from placental abruption is very rare.

    Placental abruption can cause:

    • Premature delivery
    • Fetal anemia
    • Low birth weight
    • Significant blood loss for the mother
    • Fetal death
    Placental Abruption
    Placental Abruption
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  • Diagnosis

    Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. A pelvic exam will also be done to examine your reproductive organs.

    Tests may include:

    • Ultrasound
    • Blood coagulation profile to determine how long it takes for your blood to clot

  • Prevention

    To help reduce your chance of getting placental abruption, take the following steps:

    • Avoid taking drugs and smoking during pregnancy.
    • Receive proper and regular prenatal care throughout the pregnancy.

    • Promptly treat conditions such as
      high blood pressure.

  • Risk Factors

    Factors that may increase your chance of developing placental abruption:

    • Previous placental abruption in a prior pregnancy
    • High blood pressure
      during pregnancy
    • Pregnancy during older age
    • Multiple previous deliveries
    • Excessively distended uterus
    • Smoking
      during pregnancy
    • Drug misuse, especially cocaine

  • Symptoms

    In the early stages, you may not have symptoms.
    When symptoms occur, they may include:

    • Vaginal bleeding
    • Abdominal pain
    • Back pain
    • Rapid contractions
    • Soreness in the uterus
    • Feeling faint
    • Baby moving less

  • Treatment

    Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options include: