Condition 101 About Placental Insufficiency

What is the definition of Placental Insufficiency?

The placenta is the link between you and your baby. When the placenta does not work as well as it should, your baby can get less oxygen and nutrients from you. As a result, your baby may:

  • Not grow well
  • Show signs of fetal stress (this means the baby's heart does not work normally)
  • Have a harder time during labor

What are the alternative names for Placental Insufficiency?

Placental dysfunction; Uteroplacental vascular insufficiency; Oligohydramnios

What are the causes for Placental Insufficiency?

The placenta may not work well, either due to pregnancy problems or social habits. These may include: 

  • Diabetes
  • Going past your due date
  • High blood pressure during pregnancy (called preeclampsia)
  • Medical conditions that increase the mother's chances of blood clots
  • Smoking
  • Taking cocaine or other drugs

Certain medicines can also increase the risk of placental insufficiency.

In some cases, the placenta:

  • May have an abnormal shape
  • May not grow big enough (more likely if you are carrying twins or other multiples)
  • Does not attach correctly to the surface of the womb
  • Breaks away from the surface of the womb or bleeds prematurely

What are the symptoms for Placental Insufficiency?

A woman with placental insufficiency usually does not have any symptoms. However, certain diseases, such as preeclampsia, which can be symptomatic, can cause placental insufficiency.

What are the current treatments for Placental Insufficiency?

The next steps your provider will take depend on:

  • The results of tests
  • Your due date
  • Other problems that may be present, such as high blood pressure or diabetes

If your pregnancy is less than 37 weeks and the tests show that your baby is not under too much stress, your provider may decide to wait longer. Sometimes you may need to get more rest. You will have tests often to make sure your baby is doing well. Treating high blood pressure or diabetes may also help improve the baby's growth.

If your pregnancy is over 37 weeks or tests show your baby is not doing well, your provider may want to deliver your baby. Labor may be induced (you will be given medicine to make labor start), or you may need a cesarean delivery (C-section).

What is the outlook (prognosis) for Placental Insufficiency?

Problems with the placenta can affect the developing baby's growth. The baby cannot grow and develop normally in the womb if it does not get enough oxygen and nutrients.

When this occurs, it is called intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR). This increases the chances of complications during pregnancy and delivery.

How do I prevent Placental Insufficiency?

Getting prenatal care early in pregnancy will help make sure that the mother is as healthy as possible during the pregnancy.

Smoking, alcohol, and other recreational drugs can interfere with the baby's growth. Avoiding these substances may help prevent placental insufficiency and other pregnancy complications.

Anatomy
Placenta

REFERENCES

Carpenter JR, Branch DW. Collagen vascular diseases in pregnancy. In: Gabbe SG, Niebyl JR, Simpson JL, et al, eds. Obstetrics: Normal and Problem Pregnancies. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:chap 46.

Lausman A, Kingdom J; Maternal Fetal Medicine Committee, et al. Intrauterine growth restriction: screening, diagnosis, and management. J Obstet Gynaecol Can. 2013;35(8):741-748. PMID: 24007710 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24007710.

Rampersad R, Macones GA. Prolonged and postterm pregnancy. In: Gabbe SG, Niebyl JR, Simpson JL, et al, eds. Obstetrics: Normal and Problem Pregnancies. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:chap 36.

Resnik R. Intrauterine growth restriction. In: Resnik R, Lockwood CJ, Moore TR, Greene MF, Copel JA, Silver RM, eds. Creasy and Resnik's Maternal-Fetal Medicine: Principles and Practice. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 47.

Latest Advances On Placental Insufficiency

  • Condition: Pregnancy and fetal outcomes
  • Journal: Terapevticheskii arkhiv
  • Treatment Used: Vitamin D
  • Number of Patients: 0
  • Published —
The study researched the outcomes of using vitamin D during pregnancy.

Clinical Trials For Placental Insufficiency

Clinical Trial
  • Status: Not yet recruiting
  • Intervention Type: Other
  • Participants: 250
  • Start Date: December 2019
LUMIERE on the PLACENTA : A Study on the Added Value of MRI
Clinical Trial
  • Status: Recruiting
  • Participants: 165
  • Start Date: March 12, 2019
Placental Insufficiency Microcirculation Quantification by Ultrafast Doppler: an Observational Prospective Study