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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 adversely 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.

Related Information

High blood pressure in adults - hypertension
Diabetes
Hysterectomy

References

Francois KE, Foley MR. Antepartum and postpartum hemorrhage. In: Landon MB, Galan HL, Jauniaux ERM, et al, eds. Gabbe's Obstetrics: Normal and Problem Pregnancies. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 18.

Hull AD, Resnik R, Silver RM. Placenta previa and accreta, vasa previa, subchorionic hemorrhage, and abruptio placentae. In: Resnik R, Lockwood CJ, Moore TR, Greene MF, Copel JA, Silver RM, eds. Creasy and Resnik's Maternal-Fetal Medicine: Principles and Practice. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 46.

Henn MC, Lall MD. Complications of pregnancy. In: Walls RM, ed. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2023:chap 173.

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Review Date: 4/19/2022  

Reviewed By: John D. Jacobson, MD, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Loma Linda University School of Medicine, Loma Linda, CA. Also reviewed by David C. Dugdale, MD, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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