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Monday
Apr182011

Placenta Accreta: Multiple C-Sections Can Kill Mother

David De Lossy/Digital Vision(NEW YORK) -- Barbara George nearly hemorrhaged to death while doctors delivered her fifth child at Hackensack Medical Center in New Jersey. The stay-at-home mother from South Orange was diagnosed with placenta accreta, a life-threatening condition where the placenta grows into the uterine wall and sometimes beyond.

George, 38, had the most invasive form -- percreta -- and the placenta dangerously penetrated the entire uterine wall and had attached itself to her bladder.

Once a rare event that affected 1 in 30,000 pregnant women in the 1950s and 1960s, placenta accrete now affects 1 in 2,500 pregnancies, according to a 2007 report in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. In some hospitals, the number is as high as 1 in 522.

And doctors say the main reason is the dramatic rise in the number of Caesarian sections -- about 38 percent of all pregnancies in New Jersey, the highest in the nation.

"The rule of thumb is if you have one C-section and the placenta sits right on top of the scar, the risk of placenta accreta is 25 percent," said Dr. Abdulla Al-Khan, director of the Division of Fetal Medicine and Surgery at Hackensack University Medical Center.

"If you've had two previous C-sections the risk is close to 50 percent and three, it's 75 percent and four, it's invariably closer to 100 percent."

George was given magnesium and steroids to encourage the baby's lung development. In the middle of New Jersey blizzards on Dec. 27, Hannah was delivered by a long Caesarian cut from the sternum to public bone.

There was never any danger to the baby, who was born in 45 minutes, but doctors were worried about George, cauterizing every blood vessel using hypothermic techniques so they could slowly peel away the placenta from the bladder. 

The risk of the mother dying in childbirth has been cut by 99 percent since the turn of the 20th century, from 850 deaths per 100,000 births in 1900 to 7.5 in 1982, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio