What is thrombophilia?
Thrombophilia is any health condition which increases your risk of developing abnormal blood clots. If you are pregnant or plan on becoming pregnant, thrombophilias can lead to a number of complications, including miscarriage and stillbirth.
Blood clots block the transportation of oxygen and important nutrients through the body, which can have a hugely detrimental impact on a fetus.
Risks of thrombophilia
About 20% of American adults have thrombophilia, though many do not realize it. While most women with a thrombophilia experience normal pregnancies, the condition can potentially cause severe problems and put your baby at risk. However, proper care and monitoring can help ensure you have a normal pregnancy.
Possible risk factors for thrombophilias include:
- A genetic predisposition to blood clotting disorders
- A family history of strokes, deep-vein thrombosis, or pulmonary embolisms
- Presence of blood vessel blockage at a young age
- Antiphospholipid syndrome (APS), an acquired immunodeficiency that causes the body to attack certain kinds of fats in blood vessels
Pregnancy complications associated with thrombophilia
Thrombophilia can lead to a number of serious complications for pregnant women.
Some of these complications might include:
- Intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) – This condition prevents an embryo from growing properly in the womb.
- Placental insufficiency – This occurs when the placenta does not deliver enough nutrients and oxygen to the embryo or fetus.
- Preeclampsia – This condition is characterized by high blood pressure and signs of damage to organs such as the liver and kidneys.
- Premature birth – An increased risk of blood clots can often result in your child being born before the 37th week of pregnancy.
- Miscarriage and stillbirth – Miscarriage and stillbirth both refer to fetuses that die while still in the womb. Miscarriages occur before the 20-week mark, while stillbirths occur after 20 weeks but before birth.
Treatment options for pregnant women with thrombophilia
It is essential to remember that you can have a healthy pregnancy despite thrombophilia. The best way to ensure the health of your baby is by taking steps to prevent blood clots. Your doctor will carefully monitor your blood pressure throughout your pregnancy and may prescribe certain medications to help.
This may include treatment with blood thinners such as heparin, which can help stop clots from forming, or simply low-dose aspirin. You will likely have more prenatal checkups that include ultrasounds and fetal heart rate monitoring to ensure that your baby is developing normally.