Placenta abruptio during pregnancy
is a condition in which the placenta, also known as the afterbirth,
separates from the womb before the fetus is born. The placenta is a
disc-shaped organ that provides nourishment and blood to a fetus.
This most common form of this condition occurs in about 1 out of 150 deliveries.
The severe form occurs in only 1 out of 500 to 750 births.
What is going on in the body?
In the normal birthing process, the placenta does not
detach from the womb until after the infant is born. In placenta
abruptio, blood vessels rupture and create a mass of blood, also
called a hematoma. This hematoma shears off the blood
vessels next to it, creating further bleeding and separation of the placenta.
There are two kinds of placenta abruptio, relating to
where the bleeding occurs:
Concealed. This form means that bleeding occurs
within the uterus and does not leave the cervix.
External. In this form, blood drains
through the cervix and out of the body.
What are the causes and risks of the condition?
It may not be easy to tell what caused placenta abruptio. In fact,
doctors can detect an exact cause in less than 5 out of 100 cases. Some causes
(though rare) can include:
abdominal trauma from an automobile accident or a fall
sudden loss in size of the uterus, due to loss of amniotic fluid, or delivery
of a first twin
abnormally short umbilical cord
However, a woman is more at risk for this condition if she:
has had this condition before
which is a condition that develops during pregnancy as a result of
which is toxemia during pregnancy that becomes severe
has chronic high blood pressure
has uterine distension from multiple pregnancies, or an excess of
has had more than four children
has other medical conditions, such as
systemic lupus erythematosus
has more than 14 alcoholic
drinks per week
has a history of an attempted internal version, a procedure in which
the obstetrician tries changing the baby's position from breech to head first