Placental Abruption

Placental Abruption is a serious condition in which the placenta is partially or completely detached from the uterus wall before the delivery of the baby. This may happen anytime after 20 weeks of gestation.


The exact cause of placental abruption is hard to determine. Some possible causes are

  • Injury to the abdomen
  • Sudden loss of uterine volume

The following may increase your risk of placental abruption

  • Blood clotting disorders
  • Smoking
  • Cocaine intoxication
  • Diabetes
  • Alcohol
  • High blood pressure during pregnancy
  • History of placenta abruption
  • Increased uterine distention
  • Many deliveries in the past
  • Late pregnancy
  • Premature rupture of membranes (before 37 weeks of pregnancy)
  • Uterine fibroids


Listed below are some of the symptoms of placental abruption

  • Abdominal pain
  • Back pain
  • Frequent uterine contractions
  • Continuous Uterine contractions
  • Vaginal bleeding


Tests and examination that may help diagnose placental abruption are

  • Abdominal ultrasound
  • Complete blood count
  • Fetal monitoring
  • Fibrinogen level
  • Partial thromboplastin time
  • Pelvic exam
  • Platelet count
  • Prothrombin time
  • Vaginal ultrasound


Blood Transfusions and IV are provided if required. The mother is monitored for symptoms of shock. The fetus is monitored for signs of distress such as an abnormal heart rate. Emergency caesarian delivery is performed if required. In case of a premature baby (before 36 weeks of preganancy) and a small placental abruption, the mother is retained at the hospital for observation.

Placental abruption may not necessarily be fatal but the following conditions increase the risk of death of both mother and the baby

  • Closed cervix
  • Delayed diagnosis / treatment
  • Excessive blood loss that leads to shock
  • Hidden uterine bleeding in pregnancy
  • No labor


Proper diagnosis and treatment of conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure in the mother decrease the risk of premature

separation of placenta. Avoid alcohol and smoking during pregnancy. Regular pre natal checkups with your health care provider may help diagnose the condition at an early stage.

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