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Premature separation of the placenta, also known as placental abruption occurs when the placenta either partially or fully separates from the uterus prior to the baby's birth. There are few direct causes, and they include injury to the abdomen or a sudden loss of a large quantity of uterine fluid, such as occurs after the birth of the first twin in a multiple birth.

While there are few known direct causes, there are a number of risk factors associated with placental abruption. Some of those risk factors include drug use, cigarette smoking, high blood pressure and the mother's age.

Placental abruption can present with or without symptoms, which may make it more difficult to diagnose. If symptoms are present, they can include vaginal bleeding, abdominal pain, backache, continual contractions and nausea. Premature abruption of the placenta occurs in about one percent of the population, but the rare form occurs less frequently in about one out of every 800 to 1,600 births. It is possible to have a severe abruption without any noticeable symptoms. Both the mother's life and the baby's life can be at risk if the abruption is not diagnosed and treated quickly.

In a case where a placental abruption that results from obstetric negligence causes harm to either a mother or her child, the mother or her family may want to pursue a medical malpractice claim. Malpractice claims are filed in civil court and are intended to provide compensation when a medical professional is thought to be negligent in providing inappropriate care or misdiagnosis of a severe condition. While the information presented herein is not intended as legal advice, it may be advisable to consult an attorney who is familiar with medical negligence and malpractice claims in order to determine the best course of action.

Source: My Virtual Medical Centre, 'Placental Abruption (Abruptio Placentae)", Sept. 26, 2014

Source: Medline Plus, "Placenta Abruptio", December 10, 2014

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