RCOG Release New Online Leaflet - Placenta Previa, Placenta Accreta and Vasa Praevia

Published on: 29/09/2018

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) have said that placenta praevia, placenta accreta and vasa praevia are conditions that expectant mums who have conceived via fertility treatment or who have had previous caesarean sections should be made aware of.
RCOG have produced an online leaflet with key information to help expectant parents and health professionals.

Prof Eric Jauniaux, lead author of the guidelines also said: “We hope this updated guidance will support healthcare professionals during discussions with women and their partners who may be considering assisted reproduction, particularly IVF, or an elective caesarean birth. These are both risk factors that can increase risk of developing these serious complications of the placenta.”

Prof Jauniaux, professor of obstetric and foetal medicine at University College London, said the guidelines should also help doctors to diagnose the complications early and discuss the safest way for women to give birth.

Early diagnosis is key for the safety of mother and baby with the conditions with detection at the time of birth leading to the highest rates of complications.

What is placenta praevia?

Placenta praevia is when the placenta completely covers the cervix. This can cause heavy bleeding in later pregnancy putting both mum and baby at risk.
A low lying placenta is where the placenta is less that 20mm from the cervix. 1 in 200 women with a low lying placenta at their 20 week scan will go on to have placenta praevia by the end of their pregnancy.

What is placenta accreta?

Placenta accreta is a rare condition where the placenta grows into the muscle of the uterus making the delivery of the placenta at birth very difficult. If suspected, the options for treatment following a caesarean section need to be carefully considered with a specialist team.

What is vasa praevia?

Vasa praevia is were blood vessels travelling from your baby to your placenta, unprotected by placental tissue or the umbilical cord, pass near to the cervix. These blood vessels are very delicate and can tear when you are in labour or when your waters break which is dangerous to the baby.

Rates of placenta praevia and placenta acrreta are rising and are likely to continue to increase in line with the rise of caesarean births and fertility treatment.

More details can be found in the full RCOG online information leaflet here.