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What is a placental abruption?

North Carolina expectant mothers may be interested to know exactly what a placental abruption is. A placenta abruption occurs when the placenta separates from the wall of the uterus before the baby is delivered. This can be dangerous because the placenta is what provides nourishment to the child before it is born. There are several risk factors that can contribute to a placental abruption.

A few of the more common risk factors include smoking, blood clots and diabetes. Those who use controlled substances such as cocaine or who consume more than 14 alcoholic beverages per week while pregnant may increase the risk of a placenta abruption. Older mothers or those who have delivered many times in the past may also be at a higher risk of this occurring. High blood pressure during pregnancy may also lead to a placental abruption.

Placental abruptions may be found through abdominal or vaginal ultrasounds or through pelvic exams. If an abruption is discovered, treatment options include blood transfusions as well as intravenous fluid treatments. Throughout the process, both the mother and the baby are monitored to ensure that neither goes through shock or any other type of distress. The baby may be removed by cesarean section, and both the mother and the baby may survive if it is caught early enough and treatment is provided.

If a baby suffers a birth injury during delivery as a result of a failure to diagnose this condition, it may be grounds for a medical malpractice suit against the health care providers. If successful, the baby's parents may receive compensation for medical bills and long-term care costs among other damages.

Source: Medline Plus, "Placenta abruptio", November 11, 2014

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