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Placental complications can cause cerebral palsy. They are sometimes an unfortunate part of pregnancy and childbirth. Although in most instances, physicians can detect the issues early and correct the problems, there are other times in which placental issues are so severe that they can cause serious medical problems for infants, including cerebral palsy.
Placenta previa is a medical issue that arises when the placenta lies low in the uterus, covering either all or part of the cervix during pregnancy. The placenta may separate from the uterine walls as the cervix begins to dilate(open) during labor.
This can result in bleeding from the placenta. It can be a severe medical condition because the infant may be restricted from receiving the proper blood flow.
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Symptoms of placenta previa include:
- Heavy vaginal bleeding (which can reduce to light bleeding)
- Back pain
Risk factors for placenta previa include:
- Older maternal age (35 and older)
- Smoking or using drugs during pregnancy
- Previous C-sections
- Maternal diabetes
Placenta previa can be harmless to the infant if detected and corrected in time, but if your physicians fail to monitor you and placenta previa goes untreated, the baby is at risk of developing brain damage, which can lead to cerebral palsy. Other risks for the infant include:
- Respiratory Distress Syndrome
- Premature birth and low birth weight
- In rare cases, stillborn birth may occur
Treatment for placenta previa depends on several factors, including how far along the pregnancy is, the amount of bleeding, maternal and infant health, and the placenta and baby’s position.
If little bleeding is involved, bed rest at home is generally advised, but hospitalization is usually required for heavy bleeding.
Ideally, a physician will wait until past the 36th week of pregnancy to induce labor and start the delivery process. If the infant is stressed and delivery needs to happen before 36 weeks, a corticosteroid speeds up the baby’s lung development. Uncontrollable bleeding typically requires an immediate C-section, regardless of how far along the pregnancy is.
Placental abruption occurs when the placenta pulls away from the uterus’ inner wall before pregnancy. Although it’s an extremely rare medical condition, placental abruption is serious and leads to oxygen deprivation for the infant.
Symptoms of placental abruption include:
- Abdominal and back pain (usually begins suddenly)
- Uterine tenderness and contractions
- Vaginal bleeding
Other factors that may contribute to placental abruption include:
- High blood pressure
- Blood clotting
- Using cocaine or methamphetamine during pregnancy
- Premature rupture of the membranes
- Previous pregnancies
- Older maternal age
If placental abruption isn’t detected and treated in time, severe medical issues can occur to both infant and mother, including:
- Infant oxygen deprivation, which can lead to brain damage and cerebral palsy
- Maternal blood loss, which can lead to shock.
- Maternal organ failure
- Premature birth, and in severe cases, stillbirth
Placental insufficiency generally occurs due to inadequate blood flow to the placenta. This makes it extremely difficult for the baby to grow and thrive properly.
If placental insufficiency starts early in pregnancy, the infant’s health is more at risk. However, in most cases, placental insufficiency occurs after the 20th week of pregnancy.
There aren’t any symptoms to help determine if placental insufficiency has occurred, so it’s essential to keep regular prenatal checkups, especially if you:
- Have gestational diabetes
- Smoke or partake in drug use during pregnancy
- Have any medical conditions that can lead to blood clots
- Have high blood pressure
- Are past your due date or went past your due date with previous pregnancies
Treatment options for placental insufficiency depend on your due date, the results of any exams administered, and the symptoms you’re experiencing.
If you’re still less than 37 weeks pregnant, a doctor may place you on bed rest and try to wait longer for delivery, given that the infant isn’t under too much stress. If the baby is showing stress signs and you’re more than 37 weeks along, labor may be induced to start delivery as soon as possible.
Medical Negligence and Placental Problems
Keep in mind that it’s your physician’s responsibility to help diagnose, detect, and help correct placental problems. Failure to do so may result in medical malpractice. If your baby was injured due to medical negligence, you have the legal right to file for damages against the responsible party.
- Placenta Previa - Symptoms and Causes. (2018, March 6). Mayo Clinic.
Retrieved from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/placenta-previa/symptoms-causes/syc-20352768
- Placental Abruption - Symptoms and Causes. (2020, January 18). Mayo Clinic.
Retrieved from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/placental-abruption/basics/definition/con-20024292
- Placental Insufficiency: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. (n.d.). National Library of Medicine - National Institutes of Health.
Retrieved from: https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001485.htm