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Placental Abruption


 What is placental abruption?
 What is the cause?
 What are the symptoms?
 How is it diagnosed?
 How is it treated?
 How long will the effects last?
 How can I help take care of myself?
 How can I help prevent placental abruption?

What is placental abruption?

Placental abruption is the early separation of the placenta from the wall of the uterus during pregnancy. It can cause serious problems for the baby and the mother.

The placenta develops in the uterus during pregnancy. It lets oxygen, nourishment, and wastes pass between the mother and the baby.

This problem happens in less than 1% of pregnancies.

What is the cause?

Normally the placenta separates from the uterus and is delivered right after the birth of the baby. When placental abruption occurs, the placenta starts to tear away from the uterus before the baby is born.

You are at higher risk for placental abruption if you:

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms of placental abruption may be any of the following:

How is it diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will give you a physical exam. He or she will look for signs of blood loss. You may have the following tests:

How is it treated?

The treatment for placental abruption depends on:

If the separation of the placenta is small and the baby's heart rate is normal, you may be able to go home and continue the pregnancy with frequent checkups. Your healthcare provider may recommend limiting your activities (including not having sex). Resting in bed for a few days may stop the bleeding.

More severe separation may require complete bed rest. If you are admitted to the hospital, you will be given intravenous (IV) fluids. A fetal monitor will be used to check the baby's heart rate. If the separation is moderate to severe, your blood pressure, pulse, and amounts of urination will be closely checked. Your blood will be tested to check its ability to clot. You may be given blood transfusions.

If the separation is moderate to severe but you and the baby are stable, your healthcare provider may induce labor and you may be able to deliver the baby vaginally. If the baby’s heart rate is abnormal, or if you are losing a lot of blood, your provider will deliver the baby right away surgically with a cesarean section (C-section).

How long will the effects last?

Sometimes placental abruption starts and then stops without treatment. As long as you and the baby are healthy, your pregnancy can continue with frequent checkups by your healthcare provider. If tests of the baby show that everything is normal, a mild case of placental abruption will probably have no long-term effects on your health or your baby's health.

A moderate to severe separation of the placenta may have the following effects on you after delivery:

Placental abruption may have the following effects on the baby:

How can I help take care of myself?

How can I help prevent placental abruption?

Good medical care during your pregnancy and a healthy diet may prevent high blood pressure during pregnancy. Prevention of high blood pressure lowers the risk of placental abruption.

The risks of placental abruption caused by drug abuse can be lowered if the use of drugs is stopped.

If you have diabetes, keep your diabetes in good control and see your healthcare provider often.

Despite these preventive steps, placental abruption could happen again in the next pregnancy. If you have had a placental abruption and are pregnant again, be sure to tell your healthcare provider about it. Get plenty of rest, take vitamins, and report any contractions or bleeding to your provider right away.

healthinformatics info

Reference Sources:

Ananth, c. and Kinzler, W. Placental Abruption: Clinical Features and Diagnosis. Accessed June 27, 2012 from www.UpToDate.com.

Cunningham, F., K. Leveno, S. Bloom, J. Hauth, L. Gilstrap, K. Wenstrom. Williams Obstetrics. 22nd ed. The Mcgraw Hill Companies, Inc. 2008. Accessed March 31, 2010 from http://www.accessmedicine.com.

Gibbs, R. B. Karlan, A. Haney, I. Nygaard. Danforth’s Obstetrics and Gynecology. 9th ed. Lippincott Williams and Wilkins, 2008. Accessed on June 27, 2012 from http://www.ovidsp.tx.ovid.com.

Lockwood, C. Guidelines for Perinatal Care. 6th ed. AAP and ACOG. 2007.


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Last Modified: 2012-09-17

Last Reviewed: 2012-06-27

Website Updated: March 2014

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Published by RelayHealth. © 2014 RelayHealth and/or one of its affiliates. All Rights Reserved.

This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.


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