What can the placenta tell us about a birth injury claim?

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23 October, 2020

The placenta develops alongside the fetus in pregnancy supplying the fetus with oxygen and nutrients and removing waste. It is responsible for hormone production to support the pregnancy and provides protection against internal infection and transfer of protective antibodies to the baby. It joins the mother and child.

The placenta is delivered after the birth and can only be examined at that point. It usually weighs around 500 grams and is usually approximately 3cm thick. If the placenta is retained, this can cause infection or a haemorrhage.

A review of the placenta can assist with identifying the cause of hypoxia (lack of oxygen), sepsis and fetal loss, however a normal placenta does not rule out a claim.

According to MBRACE- UK 2015 27.1% of stillbirths were caused by placental insufficiency / problems. Becher et al ( BJOG 2006 ).

The placenta histology report can be used by specialists to identify the timing of death and nature of the insult to the fetus. One such example is retroplacental haemorrhage, indicative of placental abruption.

What is retroplacental haemorrhage?

This occurs when the placenta which develops in the uterus during pregnancy comes away from the wall of the womb.

What are the symptoms of retroplacental haemorrhage?

Symptoms can include stomach pain, bleeding from the vagina and frequent contractions. It can increase the risk of premature birth growth problems and stillbirth. Despite the fact that it is a rare complication, it is one that I come across due to the significant consequences that it can cause.

When it is recognised there should be provision made for immediate caesarean section, or if the infant is significantly premature, it may be reasonable to monitor the situation as an inpatient.

To find out more about birth injury claims to either mother or baby visit our birth injury compensation claims page.

For more information contact Leonie Millard in our Clinical Negligence department via email or phone on 01254 770517. Alternatively send any question through to Forbes Solicitors via our online Contact Form.

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