Can a placental abruption result in injury or death of the mother?
A placental abruption is a condition that develops when the placenta peels away from the uterus during the term of the pregnancy. Depending on the location of the abruption and the degree to which the placenta has pulled away from the uterus, hemorrhaging commonly develops.
Risk of hemorrhaging
The bleeding related to a placental abruption poses challenges for both mother and baby as the developing fetus relies on an intact placenta for oxygen, nutrients and the removal of waste products. With respect to the mother, the hemorrhaging related to the placental abruption needs to be identified and timely controlled in order to prevent excessive blood loss that can result in serious medical complications or even death.
The most common risk factors for a mother developing a placental abruption include:
- Hypertension / high blood pressure during the pregnancy
- A history of placental abruption
- Uterine distension
- Maternal age
- Numerous prior deliveries
In order to determine if a mother’s bleeding is indeed related to a placental abruption or another source, a physician may order one of the following tests:
- Abdominal ultrasound to look for blood clots
- A complete blood count (CBC), which may note decreased hematocrit or hemoglobin and platelets
- Nonstress test to look for signs of fetal distress
- Prothrombin time test
- Partial thromboplastin time test
- Fibrinogen level test
Failing to identify episodes of placental abruption
- 'High risk' mother left in agony for 90mins after medics dismiss her failing pregnancy as urine infection MailOnline March 6, 2012
- Placental Abruption and Perinatal Mortality in the United States Am. J. Epidemiol. (2001) 153 (4): 332-337. Cande V. Ananth and Allen J. Wilcox
- Clinical Utility of Sonography in the Diagnosis and Treatment of Placental Abruption JUM August 1, 2002 vol. 21 no. 8 837-840 Chris Glantz, MD, MPH and Leslie Purnell, MD