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Issues with the placenta can lead to several complications

There are a few things that can make a pregnant woman's heart stop. One of these is noticing vaginal bleeding during her pregnancy. There are some instances in which vaginal bleeding isn't anything that is concerning; however, when the bleeding is caused by the placenta, it becomes a cause for concern.

There are two specific conditions that can cause the placenta to bleed during pregnancy -- placental abruption and placenta previa. Generally, both of these will occur after a woman has reached week 20 of her pregnancy.

Placental abruption occurs when the placenta becomes detached from the uterus. The amount of blood that a pregnant woman will experience is directly related to the severity of the placental abruption. If only a small area of the placenta detaches, she will notice a smaller amount of bleeding. Larger areas of detachment leads to heavier bleeding. If the bleeding isn't controlled, it can lead to a hemorrhage, kidney damage, brain damage, fetal death, or a blood clotting complication.

Placenta previa occurs when the placenta attaches near the cervix or covering the cervix. This condition usually requires bed rest. If the placenta is covering the cervix, a Cesarean section delivery is required. This condition can lead to preterm birth, slowed fetal growth, and birth defects.

All pregnant women should have testing done during pregnancy to check the placenta. If the medical team misses any diagnosis regarding the placenta, it is possible for the woman or fetus to have problems. In that case, a woman might opt to pursue compensation for the negative effects that the failure to diagnose has on her or her baby.

Source: University of Rochester Medical Center, "Bleeding in Pregnancy: Placenta Previa and Placental Abruption," accessed Jan. 19, 2016

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