small placenta - the cause or result?

Have you suffered from HELLP syndrome or had a pregnancy complicated by an underlying disorder? Discuss your concerns here
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Re: small placenta - the cause or result?

Postby caryn » Thu Mar 10, 2011 02:08 pm

Oh dear, I seem to have missed this thread. :(

Preeclampsia means the placenta is busted. The very first thing that happens in pregnancy is that the cells that go on to form the placenta implant, and in women who develop any of the variants of preeclampsia (PE, PIH, HELLP, whatever your care provider labeled you as having) that implantation goes wrong in a way that means that the mother's immune system has trouble tolerating the placenta.

They actually use the term "breakdown of maternal tolerance induction" a lot in the research papers. It means just that the placenta isn't able to coax the mother's body into a normal pregnancy. We - the human community, including the scientists who work on this - have frankly *no idea* how immune systems tolerate foreign organs through an entire pregnancy. And not just tolerate, but supply with oxygen and nutrients. With any other foreign organ, you'd see graft-host disease and rejection and dead people within a few days, at most, without powerful drugs designed to suppress the immune system. And investigating this scientifically is very hard, for practical and for ethical reasons.

No, it is not something you did. Promise.
Science! The articles you don't want to miss:
The Preeclampsia Puzzle (New Yorker) and Silent Struggle: A New Theory of Pregnancy (New York Times)
Looking for recent articles and studies?
A chance to participate in research? For us on Facebook or Twitter?

Caryn, @carynjrogers, who is not a doctor and who talks about science stuff *way* too much
DS Oscar born by emergent C-section at 34 weeks for fetal indicators, due to severe PE
DD Bridget born by C-section after water broke at 39 weeks after a healthy pregnancy

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Re: small placenta - the cause or result?

Postby angieb » Fri Mar 04, 2011 10:09 pm

I don't smoke and my placenta was very small too.
Me (29) DH (30)
#1-Olivia Caetlyn-9-28-09-9-28-09, 23+2 wks, emergency classic c-section, class I HELLP, IUGR
#2- Lucas Oliver (rainbow baby)- April 2011, 36+2 wks, HELLP and pre-e free! (lovenox and LDA pregnancy)
#3-Matthew, late October 2012...mostly normal, 37 wks, (lovenox and LDA again)
My blog:

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Re: small placenta - the cause or result?

Postby lilysmommymindy » Fri Mar 04, 2011 08:40 am

My understanding is that preeclampsia effects the placenta, in whatever way...hopefully Caryn will chime in on that.
I don't think that smoking at the very beginning would be the cause, here's a link to a thread about smoking during pregnancy reducing the risk of HELLP by 80%:

DD#1 Lily Adrianna: 8/28/08 Born 36wks 0days due to Class 2 HELLP Syndrome and Severe Preeclampsia via csection. 4lbs 10oz 17in
Fortunate to have a healthy baby and mommy, no NICU needed.

DD#2: Tatum Nicole: 8/6/10 Born 39wks 5days Scheduled CSection Preeclampsia and HELLP FREE!
7lbs 3oz 20in
Took Baby Asprin between weeks 20-36 and was co-monitored by MFM & OBGYN

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Re: small placenta - the cause or result?

Postby jean » Fri Mar 04, 2011 08:19 am

Yep, mine was small too. And I did everything by the book in my pg. I don't think your smoking caused it.
Our first son was born and passed in Feb of 2010. Born at 29 weeks due to HELLP and passed due to NEC. We miss him every day. :~(

Our second son was born at 39 weeks gestation in Nov of 2011. No HELLP or pre-e! Took LDA starting at week 12 and went off of it at week 38!

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Re: small placenta - the cause or result?

Postby kerisue » Thu Mar 03, 2011 00:21 am

I think that preeclampsia and HELLP are incredibly complex issues and not caused by one thing like smoking. (in fact I think a couple studies have even shown lower rates of PE in smokers) The pathology report on my placenta also remarks about how small it was, even for at placenta at 24 wks. My baby also had IUGR. I always assumed that the process of preeclampsia contributed to the size of the placenta, not the other way around.
Mama to Millie
born June 2010 @ 24 wks. gestation due to my severe PE and CHF
lived 25 days, loved and missed

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small placenta - the cause or result?

Postby bordergurl72 » Wed Mar 02, 2011 07:54 pm

After I had my daughter almost 6 years ago, now, I can remember the doctor remarking how small my placenta was. She was born with IUGR...4 lbs, 8 oz at 38 weeks. The pathology report said I had a small placenta, but no clots. I also hate to say ...but before I was found out I was pg, and I was not TTC, it was a total oops, I was a smoker...but as soon as I saw the positive pg test, I have not had a now it has been almost 7 years and I have not smoked one. I quit cold turkey.

Could the smoking of caused the small placenta and caused the pre-e/HELLP...or did the pre-e/HELLP cause the small placenta.

This seems like an endless search for answers.

Anne, 39
DH, 47
Daughter born March 2005 at 38 weeks at only 4 1/2 lbs. by emergency c-section. Severe PE, HELLP & IUGR.
36 weeks of carefree PG, then it all went downhill and had an excruciating 2 weeks of pain and brushing off by Dr's until being properly diagnosed and delivered at 38 weeks. Since then have been diagnosed with celiac (2009) and Hashimoto's (2011).
Terrified to TTC, but really want to TTC.

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