Placental abruption is a condition that sometimes occurs after the 20th week of pregnancy but more often during the third trimester. Approximately one in 150 pregnant women is at risk of placental abruption, which is the full or partial separation of the placenta from the uterus before delivery.
A timely diagnosis is vital to the health of a pregnant North Carolina woman and her unborn child. The disconnection of the placenta may rob a fetus of life-sustaining nutrients and all-important oxygen. A small placental abruption may interfere with an infant's growth, while a more serious abruption can trigger a premature delivery or stillbirth.
It is crucial for pregnant women to inform their doctors of any signs of vaginal bleeding. Not all abruptions cause visible bleeding -- other symptoms may be present like back or abdominal pain, uterine sensitivity, cramps or contractions and a reduction of fetal movement. Nearly 25 percent of women with placental abruptions go into early labor.
A hospital evaluation is necessary to confirm the condition. Tests and fetal monitoring help doctors eliminate other reasons for bleeding like placenta previa, an infection, polyp and cervical dilation or effacement. Doctors must be ready to act quickly when an abruption is discovered.
Deliveries are ordered for late-term placental abruptions, even when the condition is not major. An immediate Cesarean delivery is likely when symptoms of heavy bleeding and fetal distress are evident. When the condition occurs too soon in the pregnancy, physicians must decide whether to put off a premature delivery at the risk of worsening the abruption.
Placental abruption has been linked to several factors like multiple births, hypertension and smoking but there is no single known cause. A doctor's response to pregnancy complications can make the difference between a happy event and a family nightmare. Malpractice claims allow patients to recover compensation for damages caused by negligent medical professionals.
Source: BabyCenter, "Placental abruption," accessed July 16, 2015