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Understanding placental abruptions and mothers' rights

Health care providers have a significant responsibility when they are caring for a pregnant mother. They don't just have to monitor her condition, they have to watch out for the health of the baby as well. The slightest negligence on the part of a doctor or nurse in this context can easily lead to any number of birth injuries.

One condition for which medical professionals need to be on the lookout is detachment of the placenta from the uterine wall. The placenta is the organ that provides a fetus with nourishment. Sometimes, however, it can separate from the uterus. Such instances are known as placental abruptions.

There are a number of risk factors for placental abruptions. They include use of tobacco, cocaine or alcohol during pregnancy; diabetes; high blood pressure; older mothers and mothers who have given birth many times previously; and some other health conditions. Placental abruptions occur once in about every 150 births, and may be so minor as to not pose a threat to the mother or baby.

On the other hand, they may be major and accompanied by heavy blood loss or other complications. While rare, such placental abruptions can prove fatal to the infant. Even if the baby lives, there may be health or developmental issues as a result.

A doctor needs to be on the lookout for symptoms like pain in the abdomen or back, or vaginal bleeding, especially if the mother has fallen, gotten into a car accident or otherwise suffered a blow to the abdomen. An emergency caesarian section may be necessary in some situations. Providers who fail to recognize the symptoms or perform such a procedure in time may be held accountable for such negligence through a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Source: MedlinePlus, "Placenta abruptio," accessed on Sept. 26, 2015

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