Written by Ambili Kartha
Pregnancy is a time when various types of changes occur in a woman’s life. These could be emotional, physical, physiological, etc. Hormonal changes can result in different changes in the body and having low platelets during pregnancy is not a rare incident. A reduction in the platelet level is a common feature during pregnancy. Platelets are even called thrombocytes and in medical terms, it is called thrombocytopenia. A normal platelet count is healthy when it ranges between 150,000 till 450,000 per microliter of blood. If it falls beyond 150,000 it results in this condition. This is quite common in pregnancy and is mild in nature.
No bleeding or complications happen during pregnancy due to this condition. It even resolves by itself once the baby is born. This reduction in the platelets is okay as long as it does not go beyond a certain level. As per studies, about 10% of the cases due to the drop of platelets see blood clots. Let us study the reasons, precautions, symptoms, and treatment, all related to low platelets during pregnancy in the given article.
In This Article
Many women have low platelet count during their pregnancies due to different changes in the body. Pregnancy is a time when it is natural for the blood platelets to go down. Studies show that gestational thrombocytopenia is the second most common problem and occurs in 5% to 10% of pregnancies.
Pregnancy is a time when the body produces more blood plasma that increases the volume of blood and even hemodilution. Hemodilution indicates the same amount of blood platelets in larger blood volume which is also the reason for the platelet count per microlitre to reduce. It could even go down as the cells get destroyed due to increased blood volume of the spleen.
Common causes of low platelets during pregnancy are given as under:
This condition is rare but a serious one. Acute fatty liver is a condition where the platelet count can go down below 20,000 for every microliter of blood.
Low platelets during pregnancy are also due to disorders like HELLP, preeclampsia, etc. This is a reason and is seen in 20% of cases.
Immune thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP) is an autoimmunity disorder. This is due to the destruction of the platelets in the spleen. Immune thrombocytopenia is one of the most common reasons for platelets to go down in the first trimester of pregnancy.
Having nutritional deficiency ( folate and B12), and a few other causes are given as under:
Most of the pregnant women who have thrombocytopenia or low blood platelets during pregnancy do not show any symptoms or are asymptomatic.
Some women however show a few symptoms like:
If the blood platelet count falls low during pregnancy and is consistent till delivery takes place, it might lead to many other complications for the mother and the baby which is not good. Some such complications are:
Besides these, the other complications can be :
A condition in which the tiny blood vessels in the kidneys either get inflamed or get damaged.
A condition that can affect the blood vessels and the blood. This can result in improper functioning of the kidneys.
A condition in which there are blood clots all over the body resulting in multiple organ damage.
[Read : What Is An Epidural?]
There are many causes for the occurrence of thrombocytopenia. The patient is treated as per the underlying cause. Not all causes need treatment, some which are severe in nature require a specific type of treatment. A pregnant woman who needs treatment also requires multi-disciplinary care combined with a hematologist as well.
A few options for treatment for thrombocytopenia during pregnancy are as below:
In case of emergency or cesarean delivery, blood transfusions are done. It can also happen when the platelet count goes below 50,000 for every microliter.
Drug Prednisone is the first line of treatment for a pregnant woman who is suffering from thrombocytopenia. Even though this is safe during pregnancy, but few studies indicate that it might have harmful effects like gestational diabetes.
[Read : Gestational Diabetes]
As per research, plasma exchange therapy is another way to treat thrombocytopenia.
Studies indicate that corticosteroids and intravenous immunoglobulin are also treatment options for pregnant women with ITP.
Prevention of Thrombocytopenia is not easy yet it can be managed well if some precautions are taken. A few such measures are:
Having specific foods during pregnancy helps to boost the platelet count and enhance health. This however does not indicate that a doctor’s visit or any treatment or cure can be avoided.
Some natural remedies that are helpful in increasing the low platelet count are :
It is important to meet the doctor only if there are any signs of thrombocytopenia that are worrisome. The most important is bleeding that does not stop even with regular first aid etc. Consistent bleeding is a sign of an emergency.
Thus, thrombocytopenia is common during pregnancy and dies not to have serious complications for the mother or the baby. However, it is still advisable to keep the doctor informed so that he can regulate and keep a proper check.
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