What Causes Blood Clots in Placenta?

Placental abruption may cause blood clots and abdominal pain during pregnancy.
High blood pressure can cause blood clots in placenta.
Pregnant women have an increased risk for forming blood clots.
Article Details
  • Written By: Bobbie Fredericks
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 17 November 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
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Blood clots in placenta have a number of causes, though they are most often the result of health problems in the mother. Obese women and those who are not very active are at higher risk of forming clots, and often, a cause cannot be found. Pregnant women are more likely than others to develop blood clots anywhere in the body.

The placenta provides nourishment and oxygen to the fetus and transfers waste from the baby to the mother's body to be eliminated. It also produces hormones that help the mother's body support the pregnancy and begin labor. The placenta is expelled soon after the baby is born. Problems with the placenta often mean problems for the baby, and sometimes for the mother as well.

Blood clots in the placenta can be hazardous to the fetus. Clots do not allow for the proper flow of nutrients and oxygen to the baby and waste from the baby to the mother. There may also be other problems present in the placenta. many times if there is only a small clot, it will disappear on its own. Even if a clot does not go away, it may not affect the health or growth of the fetus.

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Placental abruption is one possible hazard of placental blood clots. An abruption is the partial or full separation of the placenta from the uterus before the baby is born. This may cause vaginal bleeding or abdominal pain, but there may be no symptoms if the abruption is small. If the abruption is large, mom and baby could both die due to blood loss.

A group of clotting disorders called thrombophilias cause most cases of blood clots in placenta. The most common forms of thrombophilia are inherited, but there may not be any symptoms. There may be a personal or family history of blood clots, such as deep-vein thrombosis. Women with these disorders are more likely to experience miscarriage, stillbirth and intrauterine growth retention (IUGR) caused by blood clots in the placenta. A woman who has been found to have a blood clotting disorder in a previous pregnancy will need to take a blood thinner, such as Lovenox or Heparin, every day throughout future pregnancies.

Other possible causes of blood clots in placenta are high blood pressure and diabetes. These conditions could either be present before pregnancy or arise during. The best way to prevent or monitor any health risk during pregnancy is regular prenatal care. The uterus will be frequently measured starting around the twentieth week.

IUGR is usually first suspected when the uterus is consistently smaller than it should be. This is often the first sign of blood clots in placenta, which may not be definitively diagnosed until birth. Depending on the severity of growth restriction, the baby may need to be born before the due date.

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