Signs and Treatment for Placental Abruption

Placental abruption occurs when the placenta separates from the uterus before the fetus is delivered. The placenta delivers oxygen and nutrients to the baby prior to birth. A placental abruption can induce extreme bleeding, which can cause shock and could kill the unborn baby. The condition occurs in approximately one out of every 600 deliveries in the United States. About 22 babies are stillborn daily due to placental abruption. Babies who manage to survive can be born with brain damage. If the placental attachment begins hemorrhaging and the bleeding cannot be controlled, a hysterectomy could be required after the baby is delivered. Mothers who suffer from a placental abruption rarely die. However, if diagnosis and treatment are delayed, the mother and the fetus face a greater risk of death. If you or a loved one experienced placental abruption due to negligence, learn your available legal options by speaking with a skilled Philadelphia birth injury lawyer.

Placental Abruption Risk Factors

Prenatal caregivers should check for conditions that raise the risk of a placental abruption. Mothers who have had a previous abruption are at risk of having another one. In about 50 percent of these instances, the mother suffered from high blood pressure. Older mothers are more likely to experience an abruption. Other factors can also place the mother and fetus at greater risk:

  • Excessive consumption of alcohol during pregnancy
  • Abuse of cocaine
  • Using tobacco
  • Aggravated uterine distention
  • Numerous prior deliveries
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Rapid loss of uterine volume due to a sudden loss of amniotic fluid
  • Abdominal trauma from a fall or other accident
  • An unusually short umbilical cord

If any of these factors are present, extra care must be taken by the attending physician.

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Symptoms and Warning Signs

Symptoms of an impending placental abruption include the following:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Bleeding from the vagina
  • Back pain
  • Continuous contractions

Testing for Placental Abruption

If the prenatal physician notices any of these risk factors or warning signs, testing should be performed to rule out placental abruption. The mother should be carefully examined for uterine tenderness and heavy bleeding. The physician can also perform the following tests:

  • A non-stress test to check for fetal distress
  • Fibrinogen level test
  • Prothrombin time test
  • A CBC to detect decreased hemoglobin, platelets or hematocrit
  • Ultrasound to check for blood clots

Treatment Options

Placental abruption can be treated with blood transfusions and intravenous fluid replacement. The mother should be carefully monitored for symptoms of fetal distress and shock. The fetus’s heart rate should be watched to ensure it is neither too low nor too high and to make sure contractions do not cause an abnormal fetal heart rate.

Maternal bleeding or fetal distress may require an emergency cesarean section. If the fetus is immature and the placental separation is minimal, the mother could be placed under observation. If an abruption doesn’t develop, the mother can be released after a few days. A vaginal delivery may be possible if the fetus is mature and the mother and fetus have experienced minimal distress. However, to protect the mother and fetus, a C-section may be the best option.

Placental Abruption and Medical Malpractice

You need to contact a qualified Philadelphia medical malpractice lawyer immediately if your primary care physician or gynecologist neglected to monitor for a placental abruption. This is especially true if you exhibited warning signs or symptoms. If you have concerns about your care contact the attorneys at Rosenbaum & Associates. A lawyer can tell you if the injury to you or your child was due to the physician’s negligence. If medical malpractice is suspected, your attorney can help you decide what course of action to take. Time limits apply to this type of claim, so it’s important to contact Rosenbaum & Associates as soon as possible.