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What is vasa previa?

You may have heard from medical professionals or close acquaintances in Queens that as you go through pregnancy, the process may cause changes in your body that could increase the risk of complications occurring should you choose to have another child. However, oftentimes it may be only the risks that are communicated but not the causes, leaving you unware of exactly what to be on the lookout for with each of your subsequent pregnancies. One problem that may occur with multiple pregnancies is a condition known as vasa previa.

What is vasa previa? It occurs when blood vessels from the placenta or the umbilical cord form across the entrance of the birth canal. Two major complications can occur due to this condition: either your baby dies from fetal hemorrhaging if those vessels tear when fetal membranes rupture or your cervix dilates during delivery, or he or she suffers fetal hypoxia and possibly brain damage due to restricted blood flow from the vessels becoming pinched between his or her body and the birth canal.

According to the International Vasa Previa Foundation, the risk factors associated with this condition include:

  •          A low-lying placenta due to your possibly having had a dilation and curettage performed following a miscarriage or abortion.
  •          Pregnancies produced through in-vitro fertilization.
  •          Multiple pregnancies.

The infant mortality rate for vasa previa is reported to be 95 percent. However, your baby’s chances of surviving even in the presence of this condition are greatly improved if your doctor is able to discover it through special imaging studies during your pregnancy. Any risk factors you may have should serve as an indicator to him or her that such tests need to be conducted. If the condition is spotted, your baby may be delivered safely via an elective C-section. 

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