Placental abruption (also called abruption placentae) is the premature separation of the placenta from the wall of the uterus. When the placenta separates, it causes bleeding between the wall and the placenta. In some cases, that bleeding is obvious because it flows out through the vagina. In other cases, though, the blood may be trapped in the uterus by the positioning of the baby and the placenta, making it more difficult to diagnose.
The most serious concern during a placental abruption is the health of the mother and the baby. Placental abruptions can be fatal to both. If the baby is preterm, doctors may need to prescribe certain medication (betamethasone) to promote fetal lung maturity. Separation of the placenta can also cause problems with the delivery of nutrients or oxygen, resulting in severe developmental delays.
An abruption can be partial (marginal abruption), just the edge of the placenta tearing away from the uterine wall, or it can be actually a complete abruption, which is a catastrophic event and an absolute emergency. Whether there is a partial abruption or complete abruption, there is a risk not only of maternal bleeding, but also of fetal bleeding due to its vessels being exposed.
Placental Abruption Statistics
- 50% of placental abruptions occur before labor and after 30 weeks
- 15% of placental abruptions occur during labor
- 30% of placental abruptions are identified after delivery (by inspection of the placenta)
- 20% of placental abruptions feature a concealed (hidden) hemorrhage
- 80% of placental abruptions feature an external or revealed hemorrhage
- Between 0.5% and 5% of women with placental abruption die, usually because of bleeding, cardiac problems, or kidney failure
- 35% of babies who have placental abruption near the time of delivery die
- Placental abruption occurs in 0.5% to 1.5% of all pregnancies
If you or your child suffered the effects of an undiagnosed placental abruption, The Becker Law Firm can help. Contact our Cleveland birth injury attorneys today at (440) 252-4399 to discuss your case in a free consultation.
Risk Factors for Placental Abruption
The following factors increase a woman’s risk for placental abruption:
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Prior placental abruption
- Advanced maternal age
- Multiple pregnancies
- Diabetes mellitus
- Alcohol, smoking, or cocaine use
- Short umbilical cord
- Hydramnios (excess amniotic fluid)
- Vascular deficiency (inadequate blood flow)
Causes of Placental Abruption
The causes of placental abruption are not often known. However, physical trauma has been conclusively linked to placental abruption. Injury to the abdomen, including motor vehicle accidents and falls, are especially common.
Symptoms of placental abruption include vaginal bleeding, tenderness of the uterus, stomach pain, back pain, abnormal contractions, and fetal distress.
Physician and Hospital Negligence
Doctors and nurses must be prepared to identify placental abruptions before they cause injury to the baby or the mother. Most negligence surrounding placental abruptions are for failure to timely diagnose the emergency. In particular, doctors must recognize the risk factors and perform careful evaluations to ensure that there is no unseen bleeding.
Emergency room doctors and primary care physicians who care for women following motor vehicle accidents and other abdominal traumas should be aware of the warning signs.
Health care providers may also fail to properly react to a known placental abruption. This is a medical emergency that sometimes requires an immediate cesarean section to protect the baby’s health and save its life. The mother’s life is also at risk during placental abruption. The sudden and extreme blood loss can cause death, cardiac failure, or kidney (renal) failure.
Contact Us for a Free Case Evaluation
If your pregnancy was complicated by a placental abruption and your child suffered a birth injury because of that abruption, contact our Cleveland placental abruption lawyers at (440) 252-4399, or send us an online message for a free consultation.