Prematurely Aging Placenta? What Should You Do?

Posted on: 16 January 2015


Finding out that you are pregnant can be one of the most exciting times of your life -- as well as one of the most stressful. Finding out that your placenta is aging more rapidly than normally can only add to this stress. Should you be concerned about your baby's health? What should you do? Fortunately, there are a number of measures to help ensure the continuing health of both you and your child. Read on to learn more about how this condition may affect you, and what you can do to help minimize any effects.

What can cause a prematurely aging placenta?

The placenta is your child's life-giving force while inside the womb, supplying blood and oxygen while filtering waste. The placenta is designed to be only a temporary solution for your child -- near the end of your pregnancy, it will begin to break down as your child prepares to enter the world. However, in some situations, the placenta begins to degrade more rapidly than normal, which can present problems. An aging placenta is less efficient at providing oxygen and filtering waste, so in rare cases it can compromise your child's health.

Although a prematurely aging placenta is most common with patients who smoke or who have gestational diabetes, it can happen to anyone. Your obstetrician may observe small white spots on your ultrasound -- these spots are calcifications, formed when formerly healthy parts of the placenta begin to die off and form calcified nodules. The more calcifications observed, the less efficient your placenta is at funneling oxygen to your child, and the more likely you are to have pregnancy complications.

What should you do once you receive this diagnosis?

Although this diagnosis can seem frightening, in most cases there is nothing to worry about. Your obstetrician will keep a close eye on you, and will likely order weekly or biweekly non-stress tests (NSTs) to ensure your baby is still getting enough oxygen, as well as more frequent ultrasounds to ensure your baby is still growing at a healthy rate. If, at any point, problems begin to crop up, your obstetrician, like those at Ogeechee OB-GYN, will likely recommend a labor induction or c-section to allow your child to enter the world a bit early -- while still healthy.

There are a few ways you can help stem any potential negative effects. First, if you smoke, stop -- not only does it help calcify your placenta, it prevents your child from receiving all the oxygen he or she needs. Secondly, avoid consumption of sugar or starchy carbohydrates, as elevated blood sugar levels can also contribute to calcifications. Finally, relax -- although this situation seems serious, in most cases you'll find yourself with a healthy baby in only a matter of weeks.