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Placenta Abruptio - Topic Overview

How is placenta abruptio diagnosed?

This problem can be hard to diagnose. Your doctor will ask questions about your symptoms and do a physical exam. Tests that may be done include:

  • Fetal heart monitoring. This is to assess your baby's condition and check for contractions of the uterus.
  • An ultrasound. This test can detect about half of placental abruptions.
  • A blood test for anemia. You can become anemic from heavy blood loss.

If placenta abruptio is suspected, you'll probably need to be in the hospital until your doctor finds out how severe it is.

How is it treated?

The kind of treatment you need will depend on:

  • How severe the abruption is.
  • How it is affecting your baby.
  • How close your due date is.

If you have mild placenta abruptio and your baby is not in distress, you may not have to stay in the hospital.

  • You and your baby will be checked often throughout the rest of your pregnancy.
  • If you are in preterm labor and are far from your due date, you may be given medicine to stop labor.

If you have moderate to severe placenta abruptio, you will probably have to stay in the hospital so your baby's health can be watched closely.

  • In most cases, the baby will need to be delivered quickly. This means you are likely to have a C-section (cesarean delivery).
  • If you have lost a lot of blood, you may need a blood transfusion.

If your baby is premature, he or she may be treated in a neonatal intensive care unit, or NICU. The NICU is geared to the needs of premature or ill newborns.

Can you prevent placenta abruptio?

There is no sure way to prevent placenta abruptio, but you can do things to lower your risk. Your risk is much higher than normal if you have had placenta abruptio before, so these steps are very important.

  • If you have high blood pressure, follow your doctor's treatment advice.
  • Don't smoke while you're pregnant.
  • Don't use illegal drugs, like cocaine and meth.
  • Get regular prenatal checkups throughout your pregnancy.
  • Take 0.4 mg (400 mcg) to 0.8 mg (800 mcg) of folic acid every day.
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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: April 03, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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