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Placental abruption

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Placental abruption is the separation of the placenta from the wall of the uterus before childbirth, which causes severe bleeding that threatens the life of the mother and the fetus

Marginal and concealed placental abruption
Marginal and concealed placental abruption

What is placenta?

The placenta is the organ that supplies food and oxygen to the baby during pregnancy.

Pathophysiology of placental abruption

Placental abruption occurs when the placenta detaches from the uterus before delivery.

Placental Abruption
Placental Abruption

Risk factors

  • History of placental abruption in previous pregnancy
  • Long-term (chronic) high blood pressure
  • Sudden high blood pressure in pregnant women who had normal blood pressure in the past
  • Heart disease
  • Abdominal trauma
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol or cocaine use
  • Placental abruption in an earlier pregnancy
  • Fibroids in the uterus
  • An injury to the mother (such as a car crash or fall in which the abdomen was hit)
  • Being older than 40
Placental Abruption
Placental Abruption

Signs and symptoms

The most common symptoms are vaginal bleeding and painful contractions.

Effect on the fetus

Blood and oxygen supply to the baby may also be affected, leading to fetal distress.


The cause is unknown, but high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking, cocaine or alcohol use, injury to the mother, and having multiple pregnancies increase the risk for the condition.


Physical exam including a vaginal examination Check contractions of the baby Ultrasound to placenta Monitor Baby's heart rate and rhythm


Keeping high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes under control Not using tobacco, alcohol, or cocaine

Alternative Names

Premature placental separation; Placental separation; Placental abruption; Vaginal bleeding - abruption; Pregnancy - abruption


Treatment depends on the severity of the condition and can range from bed rest to emergency C-section.


WikiMD Resources - Placental abruption

Latest research (Pubmed)


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