Placental Abruption

August 13, 2010 by  
Filed under Placental Abruption

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What is Placental Abruption?

Placental abruption is a condition where the placenta begins to detach from the uterine wall before labor begins. Under normal conditions, the placenta does not separate from the uterine wall until after the baby is delivered.

Separation of the placenta can disrupt the flow of blood and oxygen to the baby. Separation of the placenta can be partial, involving only a portion of the placenta, or complete. In a complete separation, the placenta is separated in its entirety.

What are the Risk Factors for Developing Placental Abruption?

Placental abruption is more common in the following conditions:

  • Maternal age greater than 40
  • Mother is of African descent
  • The mother smokes
  • Mother has many prior children
  • Hypertension (the most common condition associated with placental abruption)
  • premature rupture of membranes
  • previous surgery of the uterus
  • previous D&C
  • Scar tissue in the uterus
  • Short umbilical cord
  • Dietary insufficiency- folic acid deficiency may contribute to placental abruption

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Placental Abruption?

Symptoms of placental abruption vary from one case to another. In the early stages of placental abruption, there may be no symptoms at all.

The following are possible symptoms:

  • Vaginal bleeding (the most common symptom)
  • Back pain
  • Abdominal pain
  • Tenderness of the uterus
  • Contractions or tightening off the uterus
  • Fetal distress
  • Premature labor

How is Placental Abruption Diagnosed?

Placental abruption is diagnosed by first ruling out other possible causes, such as placenta previa. Ultrasound is sometimes helpful diagnosing the condition, but is not always entirely accurate.

How is Placental Abruption Treated?

Placental abruption is treated by carefully monitoring the condition of the mother and baby. The baby’s heart rate will be monitored closely.

The mother may be hospitalized in order to help monitor her condition closely, especially if the baby is not full term yet.

If the baby’s health or mother’s health are in danger, a caesarean birth will be performed immediately.

What are the Chances of Placental Abruption Occurring in Future Pregnancies?

There is about a 10 percent chance that placental abruption will occur again in a future pregnancy. When a placental abruption pregnancy is closely monitored, the outlook for the mother and baby is good. Most do not suffer long term negative effects.

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