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Placental abruptions: what they are, and how they are caused

Women who are pregnant and who notice certain unusual symptoms such as the sudden development of abdominal or back pain, vaginal bleeding or uterine problems such as tenderness or unusual, rapid contractions should be concerned about the possibility of having an uncommon, but potentially serious medical condition known as a placental abruption.

This condition, in which the placenta becomes at least partially separated from the uterine wall, takes place in about one percent of pregnancies nationwide, including Louisiana. It can lead to medical problems for both mother and child. For the former, these include a variety of blood-related complications including blood loss and shock, problems with blood clotting, and even the failure of internal organs such as the kidneys. For the latter, the less serious consequences may be issues related to not receiving enough oxygen and nutrients through the partially detached placenta to premature or even stillbirth.


Although many of the risk factors of placental abruption are well known, and most of these do not necessarily involve negligence on the part of a third party, the exact cause of the appearance of this condition in any given case can be difficult to identify. One such possibility, though, is trauma to the abdomen, which can take place in a variety of settings, including in a hospital or a doctor's office before or even during delivery. Treatment can be problematic because there is no way to reattach the placenta once it becomes separated from the uterine wall.

As mentioned above, not every instance of placental abruption is traceable to negligent behavior on the part of someone else, such as a doctor or other health care professional. Making such a connection, if it exists, can require considerable and detail-oriented investigation and careful legal analysis. Consulting with a personal injury law firm experienced with medical malpractice and birth injury cases is a good first step to identify if a legal cause of action exists.

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