What Is Circumvallate Placenta?
Circumvallate placenta (also called “circumfetal” or “circumfetus”) is a term used to refer to the fluid that surrounds your baby during pregnancy. You may have heard it referred to as the “bloody water”. The word placenta comes from Latin words meaning womb and fetus. A placenta is a tissue that grows inside the uterus. It’s purpose is to nourish and protect your growing baby.
The placenta contains blood vessels, nerves, muscles, glands, organs and other tissues. When your body receives nutrients from food during pregnancy, it passes these nutrients through the wall of the uterus into this tissue. Your baby uses its own blood supply to get oxygen and nutrients from this tissue while it develops inside your womb.
During labor, the placenta begins to separate from the uterine wall. During delivery, when your baby is born, it will begin to bleed out of this bleeding vessel. This blood is what makes up the umbilical cord that connects your baby with you. After birth, your baby’s blood supply continues to flow through this vein until it eventually leaves your body.
When Does Circumvallate Placenta Occur?
Circumvallate placenta is not a common occurrence. Only about one percent of pregnancies experience this condition. The term circumvallate means it has a circular border around the edge. This condition can lead to excessive bleeding for the mother during labor. If it remains untreated, it could possibly be fatal. It occurs when the placenta attaches to the inner lining of the uterus instead of the outer wall. The problem with this, is that there isn’t enough surface area for the placenta to properly develop.
It can be detected during pregnancy with an ultrasound. A sample of the mothers blood may also be taken to confirm low platelets. If this condition is found during pregnancy, it will have to be closely monitored. Doctors will keep an eye on it as well as perform regular sonograms to check the baby’s growth and development.
What Are the Symptoms of Circumvallate Placenta?
There may be no symptoms at all. The main thing to look out for is the possibility of excessive bleeding during labor and delivery.
How Is Circumvallate Placenta Diagnosed?
During pregnancy, your doctor may notice a few things during a routine check-up. They will usually begin by performing an ultrasound to get a closer look at the baby. If this doesn’t reveal any signs of a problem they may begin to do a few blood tests.
A low platelet count could be an indicator of a circvallate placenta. This condition may also cause a lack of amniotic fluid in the mothers abdomen. These issues can easily be treated by closely monitoring the expectant mother throughout the remainder of her pregnancy.
How Is Circumvallate Placenta Treated?
If the condition is mild, it may not need to be treated at all. The baby will still receive adequate nourishment from the placenta without suffering any major side effects. If the placenta is detached from the inner wall of the uterus, it can easily be re-attached during a routine check-up.
If the condition is more severe, doctors may decide to take a wait and see approach. If this is the case, there will be a team of doctors on standby during labor and delivery just in case the baby or mother suffers excessive bleeding. The doctors may also perform:
An ultrasound to check for possible birth defects
A sample of the mothers blood for testing
A biophysical profile to check the health of both the mother and baby
How Can Circumvallate Placenta Be Prevented?
There is no way to prevent a circvallate placenta. This condition is uncommon and there aren’t any serious side effects if it remains in its mild form. If complications do occur, the only way to address them is through routine testing and close monitoring by your doctor.
What Is The Outlook For The Baby With Circumvallate Placenta?
The outlook is good if it remains in its mild form. If complications do occur, the outlook is dependent on how quickly they are addressed by medical professionals.
How Common Is This Condition?
It is fairly uncommon. Only 1 in 1500 pregnancies will experience this condition. Most of the time it remains undiagnosed until complications arise.
What Is The Cause Of Circumvallate Placenta?
This condition occurs when the placenta attaches to the inner lining of the uterus instead of the outer wall. The placenta is the organ that delivers nutrients and oxygen to the baby and removes waste during pregnancy. Most placentas have a layer of smooth muscle fibers which allow it to adhere to the inner wall of the uterus. A circvallate placenta has angulated fibers which cause it to adhere to the inner wall of the uterus at multiple points.
This condition is usually present at birth, but sometimes it’s not diagnosed until later in life. It is also not known why this happens or what causes it.
Many maternal factors have been looked into to try to determine a cause. Some studies believe smoking during pregnancy damages the placenta causing it to adhere in this manner. Others point to high blood pressure and diabetes as possible causes.
A circvallate placenta is usually diagnosed during routine prenatal check-ups. An ultrasound will be done to look at the placenta and make sure it’s functioning correctly. Most of the time this condition causes no problems, but it should still be monitored throughout the remainder of the pregnancy.
Some babies have serious side effects from this condition. They may suffer from low blood sugar levels, which can cause them to pass out and stop breathing. If this is the case, a baby may need to be delivered by c-section or have a tube placed into their throat to keep it open.
There are no known long term effects of having a circvallate placenta. Most of the time it causes no complications and the baby and mother have a healthy pregnancy.
Mothers who have this condition are closely monitored throughout their pregnancy. The placenta may be manually removed either by c-section or through an incision in the belly if it is thought to be malfunctioning.
Home remedies to reduce bleeding and improve circulation will be suggested. These include garlic, vitamin E, and evening primrose oil.
Most women experience few, if any, side effects from having a circvallate placenta. The only major concern is when complications arise.
The most common symptom of a circvallate placenta is heavy vaginal bleeding during the third trimester of pregnancy. Other symptoms include feeling dizzy and passing out. This condition can cause low blood pressure in both the mother and baby. If it’s causing problems, the doctor may manually remove the placenta.
Other possible complications include uterine rupture and placental abruption. A placental abruption is when the placenta partially separates from the uterus. A uterine rupture is when the placenta tears and releases into the abdomen.
These conditions can be life-threatening to both the mother and baby.
While complications are rare, they can cause serious health issues.
Sources & references used in this article:
Clinical significance of pregnancies with circumvallate placenta by S Suzuki – Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Research, 2008 – Wiley Online Library
Accuracy of prenatal sonography for detecting circumvallate placenta. by RD Harris, WA Wells, WC Black… – … American journal of …, 1997 – Am Roentgen Ray Soc
Circumvallate placenta by RJ Paalman, CG Vander Veer, G Rapids – American journal of obstetrics …, 1953 – Elsevier
Circumvallate placenta and intrauterine growth retardation by J Rolschau – Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica, 1978 – Wiley Online Library
Circumvallate placenta: sonographic diagnosis. by J McCarthy, AS Thurmond, MK Jones… – Journal of ultrasound …, 1995 – Wiley Online Library
Abnormal membranes in obstetrical ultrasound: incidence and significance of amniotic sheets and circumvallate placenta by CL Sistrom, JE Ferguson – Ultrasound in Obstetrics and …, 1993 – Wiley Online Library
The sonographic diagnosis of circumvallate placenta. by M Bey, A Dott, JM Miller Jr – Obstetrics and gynecology, 1991 – europepmc.org