The exact cause is not always known. Other times it may be due to:
- Rupture of an artery or vein in the uterus which causes bleeding between the placenta and the uterine wall
- Problems with how the placenta forms
- Low oxygen levels in the uterus
- Injury to the belly from an accident or a fall
- Sudden decrease in the volume of the uterus, such as from losing amniotic fluid or from the delivery of a first twin
This health problem is more common in older mothers.
Other things that may raise the risk are:
- Prior abruption
- Multiple prior deliveries
- Smoking during pregnancy
- Substance use disorder, especially cocaine
- Vaginal bleeding during pregnancy
- High blood pressure during pregnancy
- Being pregnant with multiples
- Prior cesarean section (C-section)
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
Edits to original content made by Denver Health.
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a (Premature Separation of Placenta; Ablatio Placentae; Abruptio Placentae)
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists http://www.acog.org
American Pregnancy Association http://www.americanpregnancy.org
The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada (SOGC) http://sogc.org
Women's Health Matters https://www.womenshealthmatters.ca
Placental abruption. American Pregnancy Association website. Available at: http://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-complications/placental-abruption. Accessed October 19, 2020.
Placental abruption. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/placental-abruption. Accessed October 19, 2020.
Placenta previa. Stanford Children's Health website. Available at: http://www.stanfordchildrens.org/en/topic/default?id=bleeding-in-pregnancyplacenta-previaplacental-abruption-90-P02437. Accessed October 19, 2020.
Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Antepartum hemorrhage. RCOG 2011 May.