Placental Abruption: Symptoms & Signs

Medically Reviewed on 9/10/2019

Placental abruption describes the situation in which the placenta separates too early from the uterus (before childbirth). Symptoms usually come on suddenly, but in some cases, placental abruption may come on slowly over time (known as chronic placental abruption), causing light vaginal bleeding.

Signs and symptoms of placental abruption include abdominal pain and back pain. There may be associated vaginal bleeding, uterine contractions, cramping, and uterine tenderness. Placental abruption can cause life-threatening complications including severe blood loss, clotting problems, or organ failure in the mother. It can also cause premature labor, premature birth, stillbirth, or delayed growth of the fetus.

Causes of placental abruption

Doctors do not always know the cause, but in some cases, it occurs due to trauma such as an accident.

Other placental abruption symptoms and signs

  • Abdominal Pain
  • Back Pain
  • Clotting Problems
  • Cramping
  • Delayed Fetal Growth
  • Maternal Organ Failure
  • Premature Birth
  • Premature Labor
  • Severe Blood Loss
  • Stillbirth
  • Uterine Contractions
  • Uterine Tenderness
  • Vaginal Bleeding


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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.