By Dr. Yuthika Bajpai Sharma, Gynaecology
The placenta is an organ in your body which grows in your womb during pregnancy.
Placental insufficiency, also known as placental dysfunction, is a rare but grievous pregnancy complication. It usually occurs when the placenta under-develops or is damaged. It is a blood flow disorder which results in a reduction in the blood supply. When the placenta starts malfunctioning, the oxygen supply and the nutrients from the mother to the baby is cut off. Without the required nutrients, the baby cannot survive further and this can lead to premature birth and other birth defects. Diagnosing this insufficiency is crucial for the mother and baby’s health.
Risks associated with placental insufficiency include:
- Placental abruption
- Excessive bleeding
- Blood clotting
- Oxygen deprivation
- Low blood sugar
- High RBC count
- Lung dysfunction
- Gastrointestinal problems
Diagnosis and Treatment For This Condition-
A placental insufficiency can be found during an ultrasound as it shows a smaller uterus and incorrect placement of the placenta. Checking the mother’s alpha-fetoprotein levels can also help in detecting the condition. Constantly monitoring and measuring the baby’s heart is necessary as this condition can cause damage to the foetus as well.
Preeclampsia (increased blood pressure and protein content in the urine) is the most major risk that placental insufficiency bears. However, if the blood pressure of the mother can be managed and kept under control, the infant can thrive and grow. If the mother is diabetic, the blood sugar levels also need to be constantly monitored and kept under control. Some physicians might also choose to give the mother steroid shots to provide strength to the infant’s lungs.
However, there is no cure for this condition. But with the necessary steps taken to provide medical assistance, the treatment can prove to be beneficial for the baby and mother’s health.