About Placental Abruption Birth Injuries

Placental abruption (also called abruptio placentae) is the premature separation of the placenta from the wall of the uterus.  When the placenta separates, it causes bleeding between the wall and the placenta.  In some cases, that bleeding is obvious because it flows out through the vagina.  In other cases, though, the blood may be trapped in the uterus by the positioning of the baby and the placenta, making it more difficult to diagnose.

Risk Factors for Placental Abruption

337px-Ultrasound_Scan_ND_370The following factors increase a woman’s risk for placental abruption:

Causes of Placental Abruption

The causes of placental abruption are not often known.  However, physical trauma has been conclusively linked to placental abruption.  Injury to the abdomen, including motor vehicle accidents and falls, are especially common.

Symptoms of placental abruption include vaginal bleeding, tenderness of the uterus, stomach pain, back pain, abnormal contractions, and fetal distress.

Placental Abruption Statistics

  • 50% of placental abruptions occur before labor and after 30 weeks
  • 15% of placental abruptions occur during labor
  • 30% of placental abruptions are identified only delivery (by inspection of the placenta)
  • 20% of placental abruptions feature a concealed (hidden) hemorrhage
  • 80% of placental abruptions feature an external or revealed hemorrhage
  • Between 0.5% and 5% of women with placental abruption die, usually because of bleeding, cardiac problems or kidney failure
    • 35% of babies who have placental abruption near the time of delivery die
    • Placental abruption occurs in 0.5% to 1.5% of all pregnancies

    Physician and Hospital Negligence

    Doctors and nurses must be prepared to identify placental abruptions before they cause injury to the baby or the mother.  Most negligence surrounding placental abruptions are for failure to timely diagnose the emergency.  In particular, doctors must recognize the risk factors, and perform careful evaluations to ensure that there is no unseen bleeding.  Emergency room doctors and primary care physicians who care for women following motor vehicle accidents and other abdominal traumas should be aware of the warning signs.

    Health care providers may also fail to properly react to a known placental abruption.  This is a medical emergency that sometimes requires an immediate cesarean section to protect the baby’s health and save his life.

    The mother’s life is also at risk during placental abruption.  The sudden and extreme blood loss can cause death, cardiac failure or kidney (renal) failure.

    Birth Injuries Caused by Placental Abruption

    The most serious concern during a placental abruption is the health of the mother and the baby.  Placental abruptions can be fatal to both.  If the baby is preterm, doctors may need to prescribe certain medication (betamethasone) to promote fetal lung maturity.  Separation of the placenta can also cause problems with the delivery of nutrients or oxygen, resulting in severe developmental delays.

    Contact Us

    If your pregnancy was complicated by a placental abruption, and your child suffered a birth injury because of that abruption, contact our medical malpractice lawyers at (855) 712-7818 or send us an online message for a free consultation.

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