13 April 2011

close to home: potentially fatal placental abnormality due in large part to previous cesareans

A still-rare (3/1000 births) but once incredibly rare (0.8/1000 before the rise in cesareans) and very serious placental complication, placenta accreta, is linked to having had previous cesarean(s). Because NJ, my home state, has the highest cesarean rate in the nation (for the 13th year in a row), one can extrapolate that we likely have the highest accreta rate as well. Here's a sobering story about a family in my town...

"We were making preparations for death," DeLeon-George, of South Orange, says now. "We grappled with a lot. There were a lot of what-ifs."

DeLeon-George had a rare condition. The placenta growing inside her was attached to scar tissue on the wall of her uterus from four previous Caesarean sections, forming its own extensive network of blood vessels, likely leading to massive bleeding — two units per minute — just as her youngest daughter Hannah was coming into the world. Essentially, the placenta, a life-giving organ for the unborn child, had become like a dangerous growth and had to be carefully extracted.

DeLeon-George’s problem is still a rare one for mothers-to-be, but doctors say as the rate of C-sections continues to increase, it’s apt to become more common. Called placenta accreta, it’s a disorder by which a placenta attaches to a previous C-section scar, and grows at an uncontrolled rate into vital organs such as the bladder, endangering the life of the mother.


Jennifer G said...

I think that just solidified my decision not to have a 3rd baby. After 2 tough c-sections with complications, and a history of scarring (I 'keloid') I think I would be at high risk of this.

Thanks for sharing.

DoulaMomma said...

Jennifer...don't let my blog post or an article decide the size of your family...if you really want a third child, meet with a qualified care provider to determine your risk. Good luck to you, whatever you decide.