Placental Abruption: Risks, Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Who is at risk for placental abruption?


Placental abruption is a severe, life-threatening condition. During a healthy pregnancy, the placenta is attached to the uterine wall. In some women, however, about one in 200 pregnancies cause a partial or complete separation of the placenta from the uterine wall. This condition is more common during the last stage of pregnancy, the third trimester.

When the placenta separates from the uterine wall, many things can happen. First of all, there is a risk of severe bleeding that could endanger the life of the baby and his mother. Partial detachment can deprive the baby of oxygen and nutrients needed for healthy development. This increases the risk of intra-uterine growth restriction, preterm birth, and stillbirth.

Placental abruption causes

The cause of placental abruption is not entirely clear. Some factors increase the risk of developing placental abruption. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Previous placental abruption
  • Getting pregnant after 35 years
  • Have more than four children
  • Being pregnant with multiples (even twins)
  • Preeclampsia
  • Have high blood pressure (even hypertension caused by pregnancy)
  • Cocaine use
  • Previous cesarean section
  • Diabetes (even gestational)
  • Smoking
  • Trauma during pregnancy – Abdominal trauma: falls, blows and even light trauma in susceptible women
  • Blood clotting disorders


What are the Symptoms of placental abruption?

Placental abruption symptoms can include:

  • Constant contractions
  • Vaginal bleeding: Light to heavy
  • Abdominal pain
  • A backache
  • Uterine tenderness
  • Frequent contractions of the uterus

Please note,

Abruption causes bleeding mostly after 20 weeks of gestation. The bleeding may be frank or consist of altered blood. It is not likely to estimate the degree of abruption from the amount of vaginal bleeding. It is possible for severe abruption to present with little or no bleeding. Both abdominal pain and back pain start suddenly and are quite severe and may be cramping. The pain may radiate to the thighs as well. If you suffered from any of the above symptoms, you must contact your doctor immediately.

Treatment of placental abruption

Treatment of placental abruption varies and will depend on many factors. All of the following will be considered (there may be more than your doctor considers).

  • Baby’s health
  • How much of the placenta is separated
  • Amount of blood loss
  • And other health issues you may have
  • How far along you are in your pregnancy

Although placental abruption is a severe disorder of pregnancy, most women go on to deliver healthy kid in the present as well as future pregnancies.

Placental abruption occurs most commonly around 25 weeks of pregnancy. In the case of small placental abruption, bed rest may be recommended.

In more severe cases, if less than 36-34 weeks pregnant, corticosteroids may be given to speed the development of the baby’s lungs. If occurs near term, delivery might be recommended as a treatment. Severe cases will be treated in a hospital depending on the factors involved.



Affiliate link