Abruptio placenta is a pregnancy problem in which the placenta separates too early from the wall of the uterus. The placenta is a round, flat organ that forms during pregnancy. It gives the baby food and oxygen from the mother.
Abruptio placenta can be very harmful. In rare cases, it can be deadly.
Abruptio placenta usually occurs in the third trimester. But it can happen at any time after the 20th week of pregnancy. It is also called placenta abruptio or placental abruption.
Doctors aren't sure what causes it, but some things can raise your risk. These are called risk factors. Common risk factors for abruptio placenta include:
Less common risk factors include:
If you have abruptio placenta, you may notice one or more warning signs. Call your doctor or nurse call line right away if you are pregnant and you:
You can't really tell how serious abruptio placenta is by the amount of vaginal bleeding. Sometimes the blood gets trapped between the placenta and the wall of the uterus. So there might be a serious problem even if there is only a little bleeding.
911 or emergency services right away if you have:
In rare cases, symptoms of shock are the only signs of a serious problem.
This problem can be hard to diagnose. Your doctor will ask questions about your symptoms and do a physical examination. Tests that may be done include:
If abruptio placenta is suspected, you'll probably need to be in the hospital until your doctor finds out how severe it is.
The kind of treatment you need will depend on:
If you have mild abruptio placenta and your baby is not in distress, you may not have to stay in the hospital.
If you have moderate to severe abruptio placenta, you will probably have to stay in the hospital so your baby's health can be watched closely.
If your baby is premature, he or she may be treated in a neonatal intensive care unit, or NICU. The NICU is geared to the needs of premature or ill newborns.
There is no sure way to prevent abruptio placenta, but you can do things to lower your risk. Your risk is much higher than normal if you have had abruptio placenta before, so these steps are very important.
Learning about abruptio placenta:
Wilson RD, et al. (2015). Pre-conception folic acid and multivitamin supplementation for the primary and secondary prevention of neural tube defects and other folic acid-sensitive congenital anomalies. SOGC Clinical Practice Guideline No. 324. Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Canada 37(6): 534-549. http://sogc.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/gui324CPG1505E.pdf. Accessed July 20, 2015.
Other Works Consulted
Cunningham FG, et al. (2010). Placenta abruption section of Obstetrical hemorrhage. In William's Obstetrics, 23rd ed., pp. 757-795. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Greenburg JA, et al. (2011). Folic acid supplementation and pregnancy: More than just neural tube defect prevention. Reviews in Obstetrics and Gynecology, 4(2): 52-59.
Kay HH (2008). Placenta previa and abruption. In RS Gibbs et al., eds., Danforth's Obstetrics and Gynecology, 10th ed., pp. 387-399. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.
Miller DA (2010). Placenta previa and abruption placentae. In Management of Common Problems in Obstetrics and Gynecology, 5th ed., pp. 57-61. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell.
Scearce J, Uzelac PS (2007). Third-trimester vaginal bleeding. In AH DeCherney et al., eds., Current Diagnosis and Treatment Obstetrics and Gynecology, 10th ed., pp. 328-341. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Williams DE, Pridjian G (2011). Obstetrics. In RE Rakel, DP Rakel, eds., Textbook of Family Medicine, 8th ed., pp. 359-401. Philadelphia: Saunders.
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerSarah Marshall, MD - Family MedicineAdam Husney, MD - Family MedicineKathleen Romito, MD - Family MedicineSpecialist Medical ReviewerWilliam Gilbert, MD - Maternal and Fetal Medicine
Current as ofMarch 16, 2017
Current as of: March 16, 2017
Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
& Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & William Gilbert, MD - Maternal and Fetal Medicine
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