Placental insufficiency in mothers can result in underweight babies

Placental insufficiency in mothers can result in underweight babies

Does your baby bump seem too small? You may be experiencing placental insufficiency, which is usually not fatal for the mother but can be for the baby.

In a 2014-study conducted by doctors in West Bengal, it was revealed that placental insufficiencyin anaemic mothers resulted in decreased birth weight of babies. In fact, so much so is the affect of placental insufficiencythat a mother from Thailand shared her harrowing experience of losing her baby.

Through a popular social sharing site, she shared that she gave birth to a stillborn baby due to placental insufficiency.

Upon further investigation, public health officials found that the feotus’ umbilical cord was degenerated. The family feels that the hospital is responsible for the tragedy.

placental insufficiency

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As of this writing, the hospital has not issued an official statement on the incident.


Placental insufficiency is a in blood flow disorder. It occurs when the placenta is underdeveloped or damaged and is thus unable to supply the fetus with sufficient oxygen and nutrients to support full growth. Although it is uncommon, it is a pregnancy complication with potentially fatal consequences for the fetus.

Its alternative names are: Placental dysfunction; Oligohydramnios; OligohydramniosPlacental dysfunction; Uteroplacental vascular insufficiency;  Uteroplacental vascular insufficiency.

Signs and Symptoms

There are no known symptoms for placental insufficiencyother than the clues associated with it:

  • The mother may observe that the baby’s growth is slower compared to previous pregnancy or pregnancies
  • Less movement than expected from the baby
  • Vaginal bleeding and pre-term labor may result during a placental abruption (when the placenta isn’t properly attached to the uterine wall or if it peels away from it)


This blood flow disorder is usually stems from the mother’s reduced blood supply or the failure of blood supply to increase mid-pregnancy. It also occurs during placental abruption.

However there are also lifestyle habits that can bring about the disorder:

  • Anemia
  • Blood clotting disorders
  • Diabetes
  • Drug abuse, specifically heroine, cocaine and methamphetamine
  • Hypertension (chronic high blood pressure)
  • Medications such as blood thinners
  • Smoking

Continue reading to learn more about the complications of placental insufficiency


For the baby

The inadequate oxygen and nutrients can cause

  • Oxygen deprivation which can lead to cerebral palsy and other complications
  • Premature birth
  • Birth defects
  • Low birth weight
  • Preeclampsia (high blood pressure)
  • Cesarean delivery
  • Still birth
  • Low blood calcium (hypocalcemia), low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), low body temperature (hypothermia)
  • Excess red blood cells (polycythemia)
  • Learning disabilities
placental insufficiency

Oxygen deprivation and reduced reach of nutrients to the placenta can cause placental insufficiencyleading to premature babies

For the mother

  • Preeclampsia
  • Placental abruption
  • Preterm labor and delivery

Tests and Diagnosis

The following tests are done to determine placental insufficiency:

  • Ultrasound to check the placenta’s size and monitor the fetus’ size
  • Check alpha-fetoprotein (a protein present in a fetus’ liver) levels in the mother’s blood
  • Fetal non-stress test to measure contractions and the fetus’ heart rate

It is recommended for the mother to monitor and record her unborn child’s movements and their frequency.

Note that early diagnosis and treatment can improve the outcome for both mother and child.

Continue reading to learn more about how to manage and prevent placental insufficiency


There is no cure for placental insufficiency. It can, however, be managed by asking the mother to rest more and have frequent doctor visits to monitor the health of both mother and child.

For a pregnancy less than 37 weeks, a doctor may want the foetus to mature more first if he is not showing much signs of foetal distress. He may prescribe more rest for the mother while monitoring the foetus’ development. At this point, if the mother has diabetes or high blood pressure, her conditions may be treated to improve the baby’s development.

For a pregnancy more than 37 weeks, a doctor may recommend induced labor or a c-section if the foetus is in distress.

placental insufficiency

For a pregnancy less than 37 weeks, a doctor may want the foetus to mature more first if he is not showing much signs of foetal distress


Receiving prenatal care help the mother be as healthy as can be during her pregnancy. Avoid harmful lifestyle habits such as drinking, smoking and recreational drugs.

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