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Placental Abruption

Placental Abruption Causes and Symptoms

According to March of Dimes, about 1 in 100 pregnant women experience placental abruption. While it typically occurs in the third trimester, placental abruption can happen any time after 20 weeks of pregnancy. If not handled appropriately, placental abruption puts the lives of both mother and baby in jeopardy. Below, our Chicago birth injury attorneys discuss causes of placental abruption, risk factors, symptoms and potential effects.

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What Is Placental Abruption?

The placenta is the “lifeline” for the fetus. It delivers the baby’s only source of oxygen, nutrients and removes waste products. During a normal pregnancy, the placenta stays attached to the uterus until the baby is born. It then separates from the uterus and expels through the birth canal (afterbirth).
Placental abruption is the premature separation of the placenta from the wall of the uterus before birth. It can be a partial or complete separation, and it is a serious and sometimes deadly condition. It often happens suddenly, and the mother will typically experience a large amount of bleeding. When this happens, the baby may not get enough oxygen.

What Causes Placental Abruption?

The cause of placental abruption remains a mystery. However, according to the Mayo Clinic, risk factors for placental abruption include:
  • Smoking and using illegal drugs during pregnancy (especially cocaine)
  • Advanced maternal age (35 or older)
  • High blood pressure, or hypertension
  • Complications from hypertension, such as preeclampsia
  • Infection in the uterus during pregnancy (chorioamnionitis)
Other risk factors include:
  • Physical trauma to the abdomen (such as after a car accident or assault)
  • Previous placental abruption
  • Increased amniotic fluid around the baby (polyhydramnios)
  • Rapid loss of amniotic fluid.

What Are Other Placental Abruption Risk Factors?

The risk of abruption can be reduced by timely and adequate medical treatment and refraining from activities that increase the risk. However, placental abruption cannot be prevented in all cases.

What Are Symptoms of Placental Abruption?

The main symptoms of placental abruption include:
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Rapid uterine contractions
  • Uterine discomfort
  • Tenderness unlike the pain felt during contractions
  • Sudden, ongoing stomach and/or back pain
A doctor diagnoses placental abruption by performing a physical exam and an ultrasound. Once diagnosed, the method for which the doctor treats the placental abruption depends upon how serious the abruption is and how far along the mother is in her pregnancy.

What Are Some Effects Placental Abruption has on the Mother?

If the mother has significant blood loss due to an abruption, she may:
  • Suffer from shock
  • Need a blood transfusion
  • Have blood clotting problems
  • Experience failure of kidneys or other organs
In very rare cases, excessive uncontrolled bleeding may result in a hysterectomy (the surgical removal of the uterus). These kinds of problems often require the mother to be admitted to the intensive care unit after delivery. If a severe placental abruption occurs, the baby is at higher risk for growth problems, premature birth or stillbirth.

What Are Some Effects Placental Abruption has on the Baby?

A placental abruption in the third trimester often requires an emergency caesarean section. When placental abruption occurs, the baby will not receive the oxygen it needs which puts the baby at higher risk for permanently brain injuries or death. If a caesarian section is delayed, then the baby may suffer birth asphyxia. Birth asphyxia can lead to serious birth injuries, including, but not limited to:
  • Infant brain damage
  • Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE)
  • Cerebral palsy

Our Chicago Birth Injury Lawyers Represent Families Nationwide. Contact a Placental Abruption Attorney From Our Firm Today.

If you believe you or your baby suffered from complications due to a placental abruption, contact our Chicago birth injury lawyers for help. A placental abruption attorney from our firm may be able to help you.
Call us at (877) 262-9767 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. We represent families nationwide and have offices in Chicago IL, Baltimore MD, New York NY, and Wilmington DE.