13 Causes Of Blood Clots In Placenta During Pregnancy

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The placenta is a specialized organ that develops in pregnant women. It plays a critical role in protecting and nourishing the growing fetus. The presence of blood clots in the placenta during pregnancy may indicate some underlying health issues. For example, people with obesity are at a greater risk of clots.

A clot forms when blood coagulates to form a mass or lump. Clotting is a natural mechanism to stop bleeding and aids the healing process. The placenta carries oxygen and nutrients to the fetus via blood and removes waste from it. Therefore, clots can interrupt its proper functioning. Keep reading this post as we discuss the causes of clot formation in the placenta and the various treatment options.

In This Article

Causes Behind Blood Clots In Placenta During Pregnancy

Any problems in the placenta can become a cause of concern for your baby, and may also lead to fetal death. Blood clots in placenta may also be responsible for maternal mortality. Here we shall look into the factors resulting in blood clot in placenta during pregnancy:

1. Blood clots restrict flow of oxygen and proper nutrients to your baby. Fetal hypoxia, or insufficient oxygen supply to the fetus, can be a direct consequence of placental blood clots and can lead to a range of developmental abnormalities.

2. Blood clots in the placenta may also prevent flow of waste from your baby to you.

3. Development of small blood clots may disappear on their own and may not affect your fetus in any way.

4. Placental abruption may result in placental blood clots. This abruption may be complete separation or partial separation of your placenta from your uterus before your baby is born. As per the data published in March of Dimes, about one percent of all pregnancies have placental abruption.

A study analyzing 1.45 million live births among patients aged 13 to 45 found that younger expectant mothers exhibit lower rates of venous placental abruption. In contrast, the rates are higher among older expectant mothers. The graphical representation provided below illustrates this trend for better understanding.

Rates of Placental Abruption by Maternal Age

Source: Risk of Pregnancy Complications Also a Concern for Younger Patients

5. In case of a placental abruption, you may suffer from abdominal pain or vaginal bleeding.

In case of a placental abruption, you may have abdominal pain.

Image: Shutterstock

6. If the abruption is small you may not experience any symptom.

protip_icon Did you know?
Blood clots affect only 1 or 2 expecting women out of 1000 (1).

7. In case of large abruption, the baby developing inside may die due to loss of blood.

8. Thrombophilias or clotting disorder can result in blood clots in pregnancy. This form of blood clot is generally inherited. Chances of miscarriage are very high in this case.

9. If you have been diagnosed with blood clotting disorder before, you need to take thinner blood like Heparin or Lovenox for your future pregnancies.

10. Diabetes and preeclampsia also result in blood clots in placenta. Either these conditions arise in pregnancy or are pre-existing.

Diabetes during pregnancy may result in blood clots in placenta.

Image: Shutterstock

11. Infections, malignancy (cancers) cause increased tendency for blood clotting.

12. Previous  or thromboembolism.

13. Increased immobility due to any reason.

protip_icon Point to consider
Pregnant women develop blood clots more easily than others as a natural mechanism to prevent blood loss during delivery. A lack of movement due to medical reasons can further increase this risk (2).

Treatment Procedures For Blood Clots In Placenta During Pregnancy

Your healthcare provider shall probably opt for an ultrasound or a physical examination in case there is blood clot in your placenta. Here is what the doctors suggest:

  • In case of placental abruption, your doctor may suggest a C-section
  • Mothers experiencing severe placental abruption suffer from huge blood loss and the babies face complications for oxygen deprivation or preterm birth.
  • Whereas there is no immediate risk posed for the mother or baby when placental abruption is not very severe. Mothers are generally hospitalized and kept under observation in this case.
When the condition is not severe, mothers are kept under observation.

Image: Shutterstock

  • Bleeding generally stops after some time and the baby gets delivered from 24 to 34 week.
  • The baby may be prescribed steroids to help lung development and improve his or her chances of survival.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can I have a healthy pregnancy with blood clots?

Under proper medical guidance and supervision, most women with blood clotting conditions go on to have healthy pregnancies. However, these conditions may cause issues for some women. Thus, women with a history of blood clots should maintain a healthy lifestyle and follow suggested treatment (1).

2. What do miscarriage blood clots look like?

The appearance of miscarriage blood clots can differ based on the pregnancy stage. For instance, at six weeks, women may notice blood clots with a small fluid-filled sac. The embryo might also be seen inside the sac but not clearly. However, the blood clots at eight weeks may look dark red and shiny with an embryo about the size of a bean (2).

3. How do you prevent blood clots in the placenta?

Following a healthy lifestyle, staying physically active, avoiding smoking, and knowing your family history are a few ways you may prevent blood clot formation during pregnancy (1) (3).

Blood clots in the placenta during pregnancy might be caused by various factors, including infections, high blood pressure, and diabetes. However, this condition should be treated immediately to avoid complications during pregnancy or delivery. If you notice vaginal bleeding or abdominal pain, they could be signs of placental abruption. It is advised to consult your doctor immediately under such circumstances to receive the necessary treatment. If the placental abruption is not severe and does not pose risks to the mother or fetus, the doctor may recommend keeping the mother under observation.

Infographic: Preventing Blood Clots During Pregnancy

One potential complication that may arise during pregnancy is the formation of blood clots. They can form in the legs or lungs, which can be dangerous for the mother and the developing baby. So here are the steps pregnant women can take to help prevent the formation of blood clots during pregnancy.

reducing the risk of blood clots in pregnancy (infographic)

Illustration: Momjunction Design Team

Get high-quality PDF version by clicking below.

Download Infographic in PDF version Download Infographic
Download Infographic in PDF version

Key Pointers

  • Blood clots in placenta can be caused by various factors and may restrict the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the fetus.
  • Certain medical conditions, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, and a history of blood clots, may increase the risk of blood clots in the placenta.
  • Small blood clots present in the placenta may not cause any harm to the fetus; but large placental abruptions (causing blood clots) can be dangerous for the fetus.
  • Placental abruption may present with symptoms such as intense pain and vaginal bleeding.
  • Early detection and proper treatment can help avoid complications during pregnancy and delivery.

Reference : 1


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