Placental Abruption

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Complications: Placental Abruption

A placental abruption occurs when the placenta separates from the wall of the uterus in the last half of a pregnancy. It is a serious, potentially life-threatening condition for both the mother and the child. 

The cause of an abruption is often unclear, but there are certain risk factors that can increase the chance of it occurring. Pregnant women who smoke, have high blood pressure, use illicit drugs (such as cocaine) or experience trauma (such as a fall, or being in an auto accident) to the abdomen are at an increased risk for a placental abruption. In cases involving trauma, the abruption usually happens within 24 hours from the trauma.1

Recognizing the signs of an abruption

Signs and symptoms of an abruption may include pain in your abdomen or back, or both. This pain can range from mild cramping to severe. There may or may not be vaginal bleeding. If bleeding is present, it can be a small amount, or a very large amount. If the blood is trapped in the uterus, there may be no bleeding, or a very small amount.1

If you develop pain in your abdomen and any amount of vaginal bleeding, you should notify your physician immediately, or go to the nearest labor and delivery unit. Your symptoms will be evaluated and your baby’s well-being will be evaluated by fetal monitoring. You may have blood drawn to check your hemoglobin, hematocrit, and fibrinogen levels.  An ultrasound should be done to rule out an abruption.1

A placental abruption is an emergency situation, and delivery by cesarean section is necessary. The outcome for both mom and baby depends on how much of the placenta has torn away from the uterus, as well as how may weeks you are into your pregnancy.

If you or your loved one was seriously injured by an act of medical negligence, Crandall & Pera Law may be able to help. We are a nationally recognized team of medical malpractice and birth injury attorneys serving clients throughout Ohio and Kentucky. To learn more about who we are, or to schedule a consultation with an experienced birth injury attorney, please call 877-955-0020 or fill out our contact form.

If you have had a placental abruption, there is an increased risk that it could happen again in future pregnancies.

  1. Ananth, C., & Kinzler, W. (2016). Placental abruption: Clinical features and diagnosis. UptoDate. Retrieved from