22 Feb Thrombophilia and its associated health risks during pregnancy
Almost every one of us has noticed the gelatinous substance that forms when we injure or cut ourselves. This substance hardens over time and is responsible for stopping/ reducing blood loss. The substance is made of proteins and platelets that stick together to form what is known as a blood clot. The entire clotting process is referred to as coagulation. When the body produces too much blood clots or clots when it is moving through the body when there is no injury, it is called hypercoagulation or thrombophilia. During pregnancy, the body goes through some physiological changes that synergistically create a tendency to clot or produce a hyper-coagulated state. It is hypothesized that this is the body’s natural way of preventing excessive blood loss during childbirth; the body’s own mechanism to protect the mother2. This mechanism compounded with a preexisting condition can be fatal for both the mother and child. Hence it is important that you speak to your doctor before or immediately after finding out you are pregnant if you have this condition or a member of your family does. This is because a large percentage of people who have a coagulation people issue are aware of this as sometimes there are no symptoms. For more information on your situation, visit us at 67th Street OB/GYN Total Women’s Health Care and schedule an appointment to speak with one of our OB/GYNs in Manhattan today.
Who is at risk of thrombophilia?
About 20 percent of people living in the US is currently dealing with a thrombophilia (there are multiple types of coagulation abnormalities)3. Although the risks associated with severe cases of thrombophilia can be fatal, most women do have healthy pregnancies. This disorder can either be acquired or inherited. Certain medications such as trauma, cancers, HIV/AIDS, bed rest, hormone therapy, etc., can lead to a clotting disorder. As such, a person suffering from a mild form of this condition may be unaware as there will be no signs to very little symptoms. There are a number of inherited clotting disorders such as Factor V Leiden (this is the most common clotting disorder), elevated levels of homocysteine, prothrombin gene mutation, etc., It is exceedingly important to get tested if any member of your immediate or extended family suffers from clotting disorder as you might possess some the genes responsible. If no one in your family suffers from this condition, you may still have this disorder if you have:
- Had a previous stillbirth
- Had three or more miscarriages before the 10th week of pregnancy or a miscarriage after the 10th week with no known cause1
- A previous preterm birth delivered before the 34th week due to complications with the placenta, seizures or preeclampsia.
It is important to speak to your doctor about all your options and tests that can be done to ascertain if you suffer from a clotting disorder. Early detection can be managed/treated, hence ensuring the health of both mother and child.
What risks are associated with thrombophilia during pregnancy?
Certain types of thrombophilia can be detrimental to the health of a mother and her baby. This is why is important to at least test for the most common types that are associated with pregnancy complications if you have had previous issues with no known cause. Below is a list of some of the risks to both mother and child:
- Placenta insufficiency: In this situation, the problems with placenta may result in the baby receiving inadequate food and oxygen leading to poor growth and other health complications for the child
- Heart Attacks and Strokes
- Premature Birth
- Pulmonary Embolism: this can be fatal as clots travel to the lungs and can severely affect
- the amount of oxygen mother and child receives. This can also cause IUGR (intrauterine growth restriction). Here the baby experiences poor growth in the womb.
The earlier diagnosis can be made, the better the odds for a healthy pregnancy. As such, it is important to speak to a doctor experienced with this type of disorders. Consult with one of our obstetricians in Manhattan today and find out about the services and treatment options we offer.