What is placental abruption, and how does it affect your baby?

If you live in Louisville and are currently expecting or plan to sometime in the future, it is essential for you to take some time to consider the risks. Though you see and hear about celebrities and random women who seem to have uneventful pregnancies, it is not uncommon for some women to experience rare complications that can result in fetal distress and death.

What is placental abruption?

One concern you may not realize is serious involves the placement and viability of the placenta, which is responsible for providing your baby with nutrients and oxygen until she or he are born. The placenta develops along with the fetus. As the baby grows, so does the placenta. In a healthy pregnancy, the placenta does not detach from the abdominal wall until childbirth. When placenta abruption occurs, it separates from the uterine wall before the child is born.

Placental abruptions are rare, and there are risk factors that women should be aware of that increase their chances of placental abruption. They include:

  • Maternal age
  • Hypertension
  • Illicit drug use
  • Diabetes
  • History of C-sections
  • Previous placental abruption
  • Multiple previous pregnancies
  • Carrying twins, triplets or multiple fetuses

Placental abruption can be life-threatening and cause complications for both mom and baby. Routine prenatal care and an in-depth medical history evaluation enable medical professionals to screen for abnormalities like placental abruption.

How is it diagnosed and treated?

Placental abruption can happen suddenly and without warning. Doctors can use ultrasounds, blood tests, patient histories and nonstress tests to monitor the health of the pregnancy and its effects on the baby. There is no way to prevent it. If placental abruption occurs after the start of the second trimester and it is discovered, depending on the mom’s health, the health of the pregnancy and condition of the abruption, it may be possible to continue the pregnancy until the fetus is mature enough for delivery. Until then, bed rest is usually ordered for the duration of the pregnancy. If it is not possible to continue the gestation, an emergency C-section is necessary.

The effects of on the baby

The effects of placental abruption on babies vary. While in utero, babies need optimal nutrients and oxygen levels and proper flow of waste removal from the placenta. When there is any kind of separation and the pregnancy is allowed to continue, the risk to the unborn child can be severe and long-term. Babies born after placental abruption occurs may develop hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, seizures, cerebral palsy, permanent brain damage, developmental and learning delays and more. There is also a higher probability of stillbirth. Early detection is critical to minimize the possibility of birth injuries and complications.