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Placental Abruption

The placenta is a structure that is formed early in a pregnancy to help nourish and feed the growing baby.  A placental abruption is a complication during pregnancy where the placenta starts to pull away from the uterus before delivery.  If a mother develops a placental abruption and it is not diagnosed and treated right away, it can cause the mother to hemorrhage and deprive the baby’s brain of oxygen.

It is believed that a placental abruption occurs in approximately 9 of every 1,000 pregnancies and usually occurs in the third trimester or last three months of the pregnancy.  Certain prenatal risk factors can cause a pregnant mother to be at a higher risk of developing a placental abruption.  Those maternal risk factors are:

  • High blood pressure or pregnancy induced hypertension (PIH)
  • Pre-eclampsia
  • Eclampsia
  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • Uterine scarring
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Blood clotting disorders
  • Large number of previous pregnancies
  • Twin, triplet or multiple pregnancy
  • Abdominal trauma
  • Prolonged rupture of membranes
  • Short umbilical cord
  • Advanced maternal age (AMA)
  • Previous placental abruption
  • Infections
  • Cocaine or drug use

Any pregnant woman with one or more of these risk factors who complains of vaginal bleeding, abdominal pain, an enlarging abdomen, uterine tenderness, back pain, continuous contractions, hard abdomen, decreased fetal movement or fetal heart rate changes should be evaluated right away for a placental abruption.

Treatment for a placental abruption will depend on how large the abruption is, the amount of blood the mother lost and the health and well-being of the unborn baby.  If the pregnancy is less than 36 weeks gestation, and neither the mother nor baby is in distress, the pregnancy may be monitored until there is a change that becomes worrisome or the baby reaches fetal maturity.  If a large placental abruption is not diagnosed and treated right away it could lead to a premature birth, fetal distress, lack of oxygen to the baby, brain damage, hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), seizures, mental retardation, developmental delays, cerebral palsy (CP) or even death or a still born.

Here at the Philadelphia Beasley birth injury law firm we have on staff experienced physicians, neonatal intensive care (NICU) and labor and delivery nurses who have treated and cared for women who developed placental abruptions.  To date, we have had two of the largest medical malpractice verdicts in Pennsylvania history; $100 million and $55 million.  If you feel that you or your baby suffered an injury or death due to a failure to diagnose or properly treat a placental abruption, please feel free to contact one of our experienced placental abruption lawyers, doctors or nurses at 1.888.823.5291 for a strictly confidential and free consultation.