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What is Placenta Accreta?

Placenta accreta can be discovered in the third trimester.When blood vessels and other parts of the placenta attach too deeply to the uterine wall during pregnancy, you have what’s known as placenta accreta.

As many as 1 in 2,500 pregnancies experience this condition.

Placenta accreta is a serious pregnancy condition that can cause serious blood loss after childbirth.

This condition can also be called placenta increta, or placenta percreta depending on the severity of the and deepness of the placenta attachment.

Symptoms Associated with Placenta Accreta

Generally, there are no symptoms or signs of this condition early on. During the third-trimester, some women who have placenta accreta may experience vaginal bleeding.

If you do experience bleeding, consult your doctor to discuss your risk level. If bleeding is severe, seek immediate medical care.

Who is at Higher Risk?

Placenta accreta is thought to be caused by abnormalities in the lining of the uterus. These abnormalities can be caused by a number of things such as scarring due to a past C-section or other uterine surgery.

You may at a higher risk for placenta accreta if you have any of the following risk factors:

  • Older than 35. Women above the age of 35 are more likely to have placenta accreta.
  • Previous childbirth. Your risk factor increases with each birth.
  • Past uterine conditions. Uterine conditions such as fibroids can cause scarring or damage to the uterine wall.
  • Previous C-sections. If you’ve had a C-section or other uterine surgery in the past, you’re more at risk for placenta accreta.
  • Placenta position. When the placenta is partially or totally covering your cervix, the risk factor for accreta increases. Placenta accreta is also more common when the placenta sits on the lower portion of the uterus.

If you suspect you may be at risk for this serious medical condition, ask your physician about your risk factor.

How is Placenta Accreta Diagnosed?

Fortunately, some indicators of this condition can be spotted early on during initial ultrasounds.

If your doctor suspects you may be at higher-risk for placenta accreta, they will schedule a follow-up visit to discuss the condition and form a plan to manage it.

A follow-up visit may also include:

  • An MRI (magnetic resonance imaging): Your doctor can better see how your placenta is attached to the uterine wall through an MRI.
  • A Blood Screening: Through a simple blood test your physician tests the levels of alpha-fetoprotein in your blood. A rise in these levels has been linked to placenta accreta.

Your doctor may suggest a scheduled C-section as early as 34 weeks to avoid an emergency premature birth.

How Can Placenta Accreta Affect Delivery?

After normal childbirth, the placenta typically detaches from the uterine wall. However, with placenta accreta part of the placenta remains firmly attached.

Women with this condition can experience severe blood loss after the birth of their child. Placenta accreta can also cause premature birth.

If you’ve been diagnosed with placenta accreta, your physician may recommend an early C-section.

You may also need a hysterectomy (the surgical removal of the uterus).

Final Thoughts

Placenta accreta can be a scary medical condition. Maintaining an open dialog with your doctor throughout your pregnancy can help alleviate some of your fears. Together you can develop a plan for a safe delivery.

Don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions or concerns regarding placenta accreta or any other pregnancy-related condition. A trained staff member will be happy to answer any questions or schedule a consult.

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