Placenta: Your Baby's Lifeline

Placenta Accreta

What it is: A placenta that implants too firmly and deeply into the uterine wall. Similar conditions include placenta increta and percreta, in which the placenta breaks through the uterine wall, sometimes hitting nearby organs.

Health dangers: Premature birth or serious bleeding after vaginal delivery.

Risk factors: Having had placenta previa or previous uterine surgery.

Signs and symptoms: Vaginal bleeding during the third trimester.

Diagnosis and treatment: A hospital exam and an ultrasound, followed by a c-section and surgical removal of the placenta. Sometimes a hysterectomy is necessary. In some cases, other surgical procedures can save the uterus.

It's likely that you will not develop any placental problems. But it's best to take any steps you can to reduce your risk. And remember to call your doctor if you experience vaginal bleeding. Prompt care can lessen the chance of serious complications for you and your baby.

Richard H. Schwarz, MD, obstetrical consultant to the March of Dimes, is the vice chairman for clinical services in Maimonides Medical Center's department of obstetrics and gynecology and a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at SUNY Downstate Medical Center, both in Brooklyn.

All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.

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