The placenta is an organ that nourishes the baby in the womb. Placental abruption is when it parts from the womb before a baby is born.
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The exact cause is not always known. Other times it may be due to:
- Rupture of an artery or vein in the uterus which causes bleeding between the placenta and the uterine wall
- Problems with how the placenta forms
- Low oxygen levels in the uterus
- Injury to the belly from an accident or a fall
- Sudden decrease in the volume of the uterus, such as from losing amniotic fluid or from the delivery of a first twin
This health problem is more common in older mothers.
Other things that may raise the risk are:
In the early stages, there may not be symptoms. Women who do have symptoms may have:
- Vaginal bleeding
- Belly pain
- Back pain
- Rapid contractions
The doctor may ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. A pelvic exam will also be done.
You may have:
- Blood tests
- Ultrasound to view the baby
Treatment depends on the how much the placenta has separated and the health of the mother and fetus. Choices are:
The risk of this problem can be lowered by avoiding drugs and not smoking during pregnancy.
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists http://www.acog.org
American Pregnancy Association http://www.americanpregnancy.org
The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada (SOGC) http://sogc.org
Women's Health Matters https://www.womenshealthmatters.ca
Placental abruption. American Pregnancy Association website. Available at: http://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-complications/placental-abruption. Accessed October 19, 2020.
Placental abruption. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/placental-abruption. Accessed October 19, 2020.
Placenta previa. Stanford Children's Health website. Available at: http://www.stanfordchildrens.org/en/topic/default?id=bleeding-in-pregnancyplacenta-previaplacental-abruption-90-P02437. Accessed October 19, 2020.
Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Antepartum hemorrhage. RCOG 2011 May.
- Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review Board Elliot M. Levine, MD, FACOG
- Review Date: 09/2020
- Update Date: 04/27/2021