Can a Placental Abruption or Separated Placenta Result in Harm to the Baby?

placentaThe placenta is a vital part of any baby’s development. It delivers all the important nutrients and oxygen a baby needs to grow. When the placenta stops working as designed, serious complications occur. Life-long problems can arise and even death. It is a serious condition that needs immediate medical attention. Here is a quick overview of what happens during a placental abruption.

What is a Placental Abruption?

Placental abruption is when the placenta separates from the uterine wall. Once the separation starts, it will not stop. Early detection gives doctors a chance to slow the process and control the symptoms. If the condition goes undiagnosed, symptoms can begin and accelerate rapidly. Once the symptoms show, damage can occur within minutes. If you believe you have a placental abruption, it is important to get help as soon as possible to avoid a life-threatening condition.

What are the Symptoms of a Placental Abruption?

There are a few main symptoms of placental abruption. Heavy bleeding and constant contractions are the two major symptoms. Abdominal pain usually accompanies the bleeding and the contractions. Once the bleeding is heavy, the abruption is already underway. It can cause irregularities in fetal heart rate and deprive the baby of oxygen to the brain.

What Factors Cause an Increased Risk of Placental Abruption?

Placental abruption happens due to a variety of factors. One of the top reasons for an abruption is abdominal trauma. Car accidents and falling are two of the most common causes. Twisting of the belly and other forms of trauma can also lead to a separation in the wall and the placenta. On the other hand, sometimes abruption happens, and no clear reason can be determined.

While a placental abruption can happen to anyone, certain factors increase the risk. Mothers over the age of 40, those who have experienced a previous abruption, and mothers carrying multiple babies are all at greater risk. Medical conditions such as blood clot disorders, ruptured membranes, diabetes, and high blood pressure can also contribute to risk factors. If you fit into any of these categories, be sure to talk to your doctor about your risk assessment and monitoring for any symptoms. Mothers can also complicate their situations with risky behaviors like alcohol and drug use during pregnancy.

What are the Complications of a Placental Abruption?

Placental abruption can happen in an instant. If health care providers do no catch it in an early stage, damage to both mom and baby can happen in a matter of minutes. Once the placenta detaches from the wall of the uterus, it stops delivering oxygen to the baby. A full abruption is essentially like suffocating the baby. Usually, it requires an emergency cesarean section to help the baby breathe. If oxygen is not introduced quickly enough, the baby will experience brain damage or death. Oxygen deprivation can affect growth and development later in life, leading to a more complicated diagnosis.

Can a Placental Abruption Cause Cerebral Palsy?

Cerebral palsy (CP) is a direct result of an injury sustained during labor and delivery. It affects the motor cortex of the brain, causing developmental delays for the rest of the child’s life. CP is a blanket diagnosis for a complex set of problems. Brain damage sustained during a placental abruption can fall under a CP diagnosis.

A placental abruption is very dangerous and can be a tragic ending to a pregnancy. Knowing the signs and symptoms can help you prevent a critical situation. If you think you are experiencing any of these symptoms, get to a doctor as soon as possible. Medical intervention can help prevent developmental problems that last a child’s entire life.