placenta praevia

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placenta praevia

implantation of the placenta at a point so low in the uterus that the placenta is close to the opening into the cervix or covers the opening, either partially or completely. The placenta is the temporary organ that develops during pregnancy to nourish the fetus and to carry away its wastes, and the cervix is the narrow lower portion of the uterus that projects into the vagina. Placenta praevia is suspected if there is painless bleeding during the last three months of pregnancy. The likelihood of the abnormality increases with the number of pregnancies of the individual woman and with the rapidity with which one pregnancy follows another. Untreated, the condition may result in early labour, delivery of a premature or stillborn child, and danger of death to the mother from bleeding. Treatment includes hospitalization, control of the bleeding and replacement of lost blood by transfusion, and delivery of the infant by cesarean section if the mother or the child would be endangered by delivery through the vagina.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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