2nd Trimester Fetal Growth: Placental Abruption

Can placental abruption lead to further complications?

Question

If you have placental abruption at 14 weeks should you be worried? Can placental abruption lead to further complications as the pregnancy develops, such as preterm labor?

Answer

Actually, the term placental abruption is not applied to pregnancy that early. The fancy term we use is subchorionic hemorrhage, which describes a situation where there is a fair amount of bleeding behind the placenta. We do not have a treatment for this, but typically will recommend bed rest initially. The vast majority of the time, the situation resolves itself, and the pregnancy progresses normally. Keep in mind that it may take several weeks for the situation to resolve.

The good news is that once the baby's heartbeat is seen on ultrasound, the chance for miscarriage is less than 2 percent. Overall, approximately 10 percent of pregnancies will deliver preterm. Despite our research, we do not know the actual cause of preterm labor. Placental abruption that occurs in the third trimester does indeed increase the risk for preterm delivery. Again, this term refers to the situation where the placenta (or a portion of it) separates from the womb. Risk factors for abruption include high blood pressure, smoking, and cocaine use. Typically, symptoms of placental abruption in the third trimester include vaginal bleeding and abdominal pain.

The information on this Web site is designed for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses without consulting your pediatrician or family doctor. Please consult a doctor with any questions or concerns you might have regarding your or your child's condition.

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