Placental abruption is a very serious complication of pregnancy. According to the March of Dimes, approximately 1 in 100 women experience placental abruption.

A doctor’s quick response when a mother reports signs and symptoms of a severe abruption can save the life of mom and baby.  When a doctor does not timely recognize the mother is suffering from an abruption, it can result in devastating brain injury at birth, even death, to mom or baby.  This may be medical malpractice

What is placental abruption?

The placenta is an organ that develops inside the mother’s uterus to provide oxygen and nutrients to her growing baby.  It is normal for the placenta to separate from the uterus immediately after a baby is born. 

Placental abruption is when the placenta detaches from the uterus before the baby is born.  When this happens, it deprives the baby of essential nutrients and oxygen.

What are the signs and symptoms of placental abruption?

Signs and symptoms of placental abruption include vaginal bleeding, pain in the mother’s belly or back, uterine cramping, uterine tenderness, fetal distress, or premature labor.

Are there risk factors for placental abruption?

There are some risk factors associated with placental abruption, including:

  • Older than 35
  • Pregnant with multiple babies
  • History of high blood pressure
  • Previous abruption
  • Pregnancy complications such as uterine infection, umbilical cord problems or high amount of amniotic fluid
  • Smoking or drug use

How is placental abruption diagnosed?

When a mother calls her doctor to report signs and symptoms such as vaginal bleeding and severe back and belly pain, the doctor should recognize this as a potential placental abruption.  To confirm, the doctor should perform a physical exam to check for uterine tenderness or rigidity, monitor the fetal heart rate, order blood and urine tests and an ultrasound.  

What happens when there is a placental abruption? 

If the abruption is a small, partial abruption that is not severe, the baby is not full term, and the baby’s heartbeat is ok, the physician may admit the mother to the hospital for close monitoring.  Sometimes, the mother is given medication to help prepare the baby for an early delivery.

If the baby is near full term and the placental abruption is severe, the baby will likely be emergently delivered by c-section.

Can a placental abruption cause injury or death? 

Placental abruption is a very serious complication of pregnancy.  It can cause serious injury to the baby and mother. 

When the placenta detaches, the baby is deprived of oxygen.  The longer the baby goes without oxygen, the more brain damage the baby suffers.  The brain injury can result in devastating cognitive, physical, and developmental injuries, such as cerebral palsy.  If the baby is not delivered in time, the baby can die.  According to the American Pregnancy Association, 15 percent of severe placental abruption cases result in the baby’s death. 

Severe placental abruption can also result in devastating injury, or even death, to the mother.  If she has lost a significant amount of blood, she can go into shock.   She may also need a hysterectomy after the baby is delivered, which would prevent future pregnancies.

Our experienced birth injury lawyers can help

Birth injury litigation is complex. As Grand Rapids and West Michigan lawyers representing injured children and babies, we have the experience, knowledge and expertise to help. We get to know you and your family so that we can present your case in the best possible way. We work closely with a network of professionals, including medical and financial experts, to assist you.  Please contact Hoffer & Sheremet, PLC at 616.278.0888 to learn more about compensation to which you and your child may be entitled to or fill out our free consultation form