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8 Risks Factors of Placental Abruption

Normally, the placenta should separate from the uterine cavity once a child has been delivered. Whether the child is delivered through a vaginal delivery or caesarean section, the placenta will be expelled after birth. However, if the child has not yet been born, but the placenta begins to separate, partially or substantially, the placental abruption, as it is known, can become life threatening to both mother and unborn child.

The dangers. The placenta is the channel between mother and fetus, providing the child with nutrients and oxygen. If the placenta separates from the uterine wall, the child can be deprived of these nutrients and oxygen, and it can also lead to heavy blood loss for the mother.

Placental abruption most commonly occurs in the final quarter of pregnancy and can present symptoms in many forms, including vaginal bleeding, stomach pains, uterine tenderness, or frequent contractions.

Causes of placental abruption

Placental abruption may result from a trauma to the abdomen, such as from a car accident, a fall, or from the mother-to-be’s waters breaking.

Risk factors of placental abruption

  • Placental abruption in a previous pregnancy
  • Hypertension in pregnancy
  • Suffering a trauma to the abdomen
  • Use of narcotics, such as cocaine
  • Waters breaking
  • Abnormal bleeding
  • Multiple pregnancy
  • Maternal age (over 40 years old)

Dangers to the mother from placental abruption

  • Shock from severe blood loss
  • Abnormal clotting due to severe blood loss
  • Kidney and other organ failures

Dangers to the child from placental abruption

  • Nutrient and oxygen deprivation
  • Premature birth
  • Stillbirth

Treatment for placental abruption depends on the severity of the separation of the placenta and on the gestational age. If a partial separation occurs at an early gestational age, and both mother and child have not encountered any abnormalities, the pregnancy can continue as normal, with the condition’s progression being monitored under the close care of an obstetrician. If there is continuous and severe separation, however, the pregnancy should be terminated immediately, which is usually carried out by means of caesarean section.

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Chantarat Suratanakavikul, M.D. Summary: Obstetrics And Gynaecology Maternal And Fetal Medicine