Calcification of Placenta in Pregnancy: Things You Need to Know

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In pregnancy placental calcification is a condition in which there is a slow but continuous process of calcium depositions in the placenta. It is normal to have calcified placenta towards the end of pregnancy but if this condition occurs before the 36th week, it can result in unusual pathological changes and complications.

calcified placenta

In this article:

What Does Ageing Placenta Mean?
How is the Age of Placenta Calculated?
How is Placenta Calcification Diagnosed?
How Does Placenta Ageing Affect the Delivery?
Calcification of Placenta Before 32 Weeks
Calcified Placenta Between 28 and 36 Weeks
Placental Ageing at 36 Weeks
Placental Calcification from 37 to 42 Weeks
Can Early Ageing of Placenta Affect an Unborn Child?
How to Prevent Placental Calcification?

A Guide for Calcification of Placenta in Pregnancy

What Does Ageing Placenta Mean?

As the pregnancy progresses, the placenta deteriorates. By the end of the pregnancy term, its ability to supply oxygen and food to the foetus decreases. And by the end of the 42nd week, it becomes mandatory to deliver the baby since, by that time, the placenta gets extremely calcified and it becomes difficult for the baby to breathe inside the mother’s womb or even get nutrition from the mother.

How is the Age of Placenta Calculated?

To estimate the exact age or calcification of the placenta is a difficult task. Trained radiologists who conduct ultrasounds may be able to tell through a certain extent by the ultrasound images. However, different doctors may have different interpretations of the same image seen.

How is Placenta Calcification Diagnosed?

The solitary way in which a placental calcification can be diagnosed is through pelvic ultrasonography. However, in many cases, it gets diagnosed during the routine sonography that is conducted during pregnancy.

How Does Placenta Ageing Affect the Delivery?

Placental calcification near the end of the pregnancy period is normally seen. In fact, the start of placental calcification could mean that it is near delivery time. However, calcification before the 37th week or the maturity of the foetus can pose a problem for the baby. It can cause low birth weight, preterm birth and in rare cases, death if the foetus can be seen. However, with immediate medical intervention and continuous monitoring of the mother as well as the baby, it can be taken care of.

Calcification of Placenta Before 32 Weeks

  • If calcification starts before the 32 weeks gestation it is called as early preterm placental calcification.
  • The start of calcification at this period of pregnancy can be extremely dangerous for the mother and baby.
  • The mother may experience postpartum haemorrhage and placental abruption.
  • The baby may be born preterm and may experience all types of risks associated with premature births.
  • Babies born may have a low Apgar score and less birth weight.
  • Rarely, the foetus may die in the mother’s womb itself.

Calcified Placenta Between 28 and 36 Weeks

  • Pregnant women suffering from hypertension, diabetes, kidney disorder, anaemia, cardio problems, etc or in other words women with high-risk pregnancies are more at risk or danger than women with low-risk pregnancies or normal pregnancies.
  • It requires continuous monitoring of the foetus and the mother by doctors.
  • Calcification at this stage of pregnancy could result in adverse outcomes for the mother and foetus.

Placental Ageing at 36 Weeks

  • Grade III placental calcification can induce hypertension during pregnancy which can prove to be fatal for the foetus and result in pregnancy-related complications for the mother.
  • The baby born in this condition will probably have a low birth weight.
  • The mother has to have a preterm delivery which will in all probability be through C-section.

Placental Calcification from 37 to 42 Weeks

  • Delivery from the 37th week onwards is termed as safe. The foetus is fully matured and may not face any kind of risks.
  • The weight is also normal for the baby.
  • Doctors do not term it risky for the mother and baby.
  • However, babies should be delivered before the 42nd week since placental calcification makes the placenta incapable of delivering nutrition and oxygen to the foetus. Inadequate supply of oxygen could also pose a risk to the baby’s brain and damage it.

Can Early Ageing of Placenta Affect an Unborn Child?

Premature placental calcification may pose several complications for the mother as well as the baby. Since it is a condition wherein deposits of calcium form in the placenta and obstruct oxygen and nutrients to reach the foetus, it is a dangerous condition. Since the baby does not receive the required amount of nutrients or oxygen, it has to be delivered preterm resulting in low birth weight. Due to the calcification process, some parts of the placenta become dead and are incapable of functioning normally. The obstruction of oxygen can also damage the baby’s brain and prove to be fatal.

How to Prevent Placental Calcification?

Placental calcification can hinder a baby’s development inside the mother’s womb and also lead to several other complications. Its symptoms like less movement of the foetus than usual, the smaller size of the abdomen than in earlier pregnancies, vaginal bleeding or experiencing contractions before the 37th week should immediately be brought to the notice of the doctor.

One of the main causes of this is smoking during pregnancy. Therefore, pregnant women should avoid smoking. It has also been seen that nanobacteria which also leads to kidney stones are one of the reasons behind this. However, there are no ways to prevent this. It can also be found in the bloodstream of healthy people.

However, regular intake of vitamins, nutrients and healthy food which contains antioxidants can stop preterm aging of the placenta. Food containing vitamin E, vitamin C, and beta carotene should be taken in more quantities to prevent this. The condition is most likely to affect the women getting pregnant at an early age. Therefore, avoid pregnancy until the body matures can be a way to avoid premature aging of the placenta.

Conclusion

The occurrence of this condition is not known exactly and can prove to be dangerous for the mother and the baby. Follow a healthy lifestyle and eat nutritious foods and going for a regular check-up during pregnancy could prevent or detect the condition.

References

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6090024/

https://flo.health/pregnancy/pregnancy-health/complications/calcified-placenta-in-pregnancy

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