Vasa previa is a rare pregnancy complication. It occurs when the fetal umbilical cord crosses into the internal os of the uterus (the internal opening in the cervix separating the uterine cavity from the cervix. This condition increases the risk of fetal death due to hemorrhage that results at the time of fetal membrane rapture or during labor and delivery. There is also the danger of lack of oxygen to the fetus.
What causes vasa previa ?
The exact cause of this condition is not known. However it is believed that women who have had these pregnancy problems below are at higher risk
- previous delivery by c-section
- low-lying placenta due to scarring of the uterus from a previous miscarriage or c-section
- an unusually formed placenta (a bilobed placenta or succenturiate-lobed placenta )
- velamentous insertion of the umbilical cord ( a condition in which the cord inserts into the fetal membranes and travels through them to the placenta instead of inserting directly into the placenta )
- in vitro fertilization pregnancies
- carrying multiples
Are there any symptoms I should look out for ?
Most of the time, there are no symptoms associated with vasa previa. It is usually not diagnosed until labor when the fetus is already at risk or until after a still birth. Expectant moms should take note of sudden painless vaginal bleeding. The color of the blood may also help with diagnosis. Bright red blood means it is well oxygenated and comes from the mother. The baby’s blood will be darker red in color due to low oxygen levels. The appearance of a dark burgundy blood when water breaks may be an indication of vasa previa.
How is vasa previa treated ?
If this condition is detected early, the survival rate for you and your baby is 97 %. If you exhibit warning signs, your doctor may perform a transvaginal sonography combined with color Doppler. This is done to rule out vasa previa.
Then depending on how far along you are on your pregnancy, your doctor will deliver your baby through c- section around 35 to 37 weeks. During delivery, medical personnel will be on standby to provide immediate blood transfusion to the baby if need be.
Your doctor may recommend that you be hospitalized throughout your third trimester. You may be given steroids to mature the baby’s lungs just in case the baby is delivered prematurely.
Vasa Previa. Pregnancy corner. http://www.pregnancycorner.com/being-pregnant/complications/vasa-previa.html. Accessed March 12, 2015
Definition of vasa previa. Medicine Net. http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=5961. Accessed March 12,, 2015.