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Abruptio Placentae : Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery

What is Abruptio Placentae?

Abruptio placentae is a serious condition in which the placenta partially or completely separates from the inner wall of the uterus before delivery. This can cause severe bleeding, which can lead to a variety of complications for both the mother and the baby. Abruptio Placentae is also called as placental abruption.(1)

Abruptio Placentae : Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery

Facts & Statistics Related To Abruptio Placentae

  • Incidence: Abruptio placentae affects approximately 1 in 150 pregnancies in the United States, with the highest rates occurring in women who are over the age of 35, or have a history of hypertension, smoking, or preterm delivery.
  • Risk Factors: Women who are older, have high blood pressure, smoke, use drugs or alcohol, or have a history of preterm delivery, are at a higher risk for developing abruptio placentae.(2)
  • Preterm Delivery: Abruptio placentae is a leading cause of preterm delivery, which occurs in up to 50% of cases. Preterm delivery can result in a variety of health problems for both the mother and the baby, including respiratory distress syndrome, feeding difficulties, and developmental delays.
  • Stillbirth: Abruptio placentae is also associated with an increased risk of stillbirth, particularly in severe cases where the placenta has completely separated from the uterus.
  • Maternal Complications: Abruptio placentae can also lead to serious complications for the mother, including severe bleeding, blood clots, organ damage, and shock.
  • Fetal Complications: Babies born to mothers with abruptio placentae are at a higher risk for low birth weight, fetal distress, and developmental delays.

These statistics highlight the importance of prompt medical attention and proper management for women who are diagnosed with abruptio placentae.

Causes of Abruptio Placentae

The exact cause of abruptio placentae is not well understood, but there are several factors that can increase the risk of developing the condition. Some of these include high blood pressure, smoking, alcohol and drug use, previous premature deliveries, and trauma to the uterus.(3)

Symptoms of Abruptio Placentae

The most common symptom of abruptio placentae is vaginal bleeding, which can range from light to heavy. Other symptoms may include abdominal pain, contractions, and decreased fetal movement. In some cases, there may be no symptoms at all.

Common symptoms of Abruptio Placentae include:

  • Decreased fetal movement(4)
  • Decreased fetal heart rate(4) 
  • Abdominal pain of sudden onset(4)
  • Continuous contractions(4)
  • Enlarged uterus(4)
  • Vaginal bleeding(4)

Diagnosis of Abruptio Placentae

Diagnosis of abruptio placentae is made through ultrasound, which can show if the placenta has separated from the uterine wall. Other tests, such as a CT scan or MRI, may also be performed to confirm the diagnosis and assess the extent of the separation.

Treatment of Abruptio Placentae

Treatment for abruptio placentae depends on the severity of the condition and the stage of the pregnancy. In some cases, the mother may need to be hospitalized for observation, and the baby may need to be delivered early. In severe cases, a cesarean section may be necessary to deliver the baby and prevent further complications.(5)

Prevention of Abruptio Placentae

There is no surefire way to prevent abruptio placentae, but there are steps that can be taken to reduce the risk of developing the condition. These include managing high blood pressure, avoiding smoking, alcohol, and drugs, and avoiding traumatic injury to the uterus.

Complications of Abruptio Placentae

Abruptio placentae can lead to a number of complications for both the mother and the baby. These may include severe bleeding, preterm delivery, low birth weight, stillbirth, and fetal distress. In some cases, the mother may also experience blood clots, organ damage, or shock.(6)

Recovery Period For Abruptio Placentae

The recovery period after a diagnosis of abruptio placentae depends on several factors, including the severity of the condition, the stage of the pregnancy, and any complications that may have arisen.

If the pregnancy is at a very early stage, the mother may be able to recover fully without any long-term effects. In cases where the baby needs to be delivered early, the mother may need to stay in the hospital for several days or longer to ensure proper healing.

If there have been any complications, such as severe bleeding or organ damage, the recovery period may be longer and more complicated. In these cases, the mother may need ongoing medical care and monitoring, and may need to limit her activities for several weeks or months.

It is important for women who have experienced abruptio placentae to work closely with their healthcare provider to determine the best plan for recovery and to monitor their health during the postpartum period.

In conclusion, abruptio placentae is a serious condition that requires prompt medical attention. By being aware of the causes, symptoms, and treatment options, women can take steps to reduce their risk of developing this condition and ensure the health and well-being of themselves and their baby.


  1. Placental Abruption
  2. Pamela Schmidt; Christy L. Skelly; Deborah A. Raines.
  3. https://americanpregnancy.org/healthy-pregnancy/pregnancy-complications/placental-abruption/
  4. https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/placental-abruption#the-cause-is-unknown-in-most-cases
  5. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Placental-abruption#cite-ref-Shef2014-5-3
  6. Neilson, J. P. (2003). Interventions for treating placental abruption. The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 2003(1). https://doi.org/10.1002/14651858.CD003247
  7. https://birthinjurycenter.org/pregnancy-complications/placental-abruption/
Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:February 3, 2023

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