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Placenta Accreta: With More C-Sections, More Risks

One of the big findings from the Centers for Disease Control's new research on the sharp rise in delivery complications in the United States involves mothers who give birth via c-section. With more mothers either choosing or requiring c-sections, the chances of dangerous complications have increased dramatically.

According to the CDC, c-sections occur 60 percent more frequently than they did in 1996. The CDC also associated this increase with more cases of a serious and potentially fatal complication known as placenta accreta.

A placenta accreta happens when parts of the placenta become embedded in the uterine wall for various reasons. While portions of the placenta can grow into the sides of the uterus throughout a pregnancy, the risks increase after a c-section. In many cases, the placenta can become caught in the c-section incision itself.

Placenta accreta during pregnancy usually requires the mother to undergo both a c-section and a hysterectomy to remove the entire uterus. While this avoids a life-threatening emergency, the unnecessary loss of a woman's uterus is a difficult outcome for countless new mothers.

In other cases, undetected problems can cause severe bleeding and hemorrhages after a delivery. A placenta accreta prevents the placenta from detaching after birth, causing dangerous blood loss. Doctors must often perform emergency surgeries and blood transfusions to try to save the mother's life.

When placenta accreta or related complications result from a doctor's mistake, the mother and her family may have a claim for medical malpractice. An experienced Ohio birth injury lawyer can help evaluate all options after these devastating injuries.

Source: Mayo Clinic, "Placenta accreta," May 2012; Wall Street Journal, "Steep Rise of Complications in Childbirth Spurs Action," Dec. 10, 2012

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