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Placenta abruption - definition

The placenta is the organ that supplies food and oxygen to the baby during pregnancy. Placental abruption occurs when the placenta detaches from the wall of the womb (uterus) before delivery. The most common symptoms are vaginal bleeding and painful contractions. 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. Treatment depends on the severity of the condition and can range from bed rest to emergency C-section.

References

Francois KE, Foley MR. Antepartum and postpartum hemorrhage. In: Gabbe SG, Niebyl JR, Simpson JL, et al, eds. Obstetrics - Normal and Problem Pregnancies. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:chap 18.

Hull AD, Resnik R. Placenta previa, placenta accreta, abruptio placentae, and vasa previa. Creasy RK, Resnik R, Iams JD, et al, eds. Creasy and Resnik's Maternal-Fetal Medicine: Principles and Practice. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2014:chap 46.

Salhi BA, Nagrani S. Acute complications of pregnancy. In: Walls RM, Hockberger RS, Gausche-Hill M, eds. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 178.

Review Date 4/19/2018

Updated by: John D. Jacobson, MD, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Loma Linda University School of Medicine, Loma Linda Center for Fertility, Loma Linda, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.