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Aust N Z J Obstet Gynaecol. 2005 Dec;45(6):499-504.

Placenta praevia: maternal morbidity and place of birth.

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Centre for Perinatal Health Services Research, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia.



International guidelines recommend that women with placenta praevia should be delivered by an experienced operator at a hospital with an on-site blood bank.


To determine the risk factors, level of care at the birth hospital and incidence of maternal morbidity for women with placenta praevia.


Data were obtained from linked hospital separation and perinatal databases for 375,790 women giving birth in a NSW hospital, 1998-2002. We defined clinically significant placenta praevia as those women who were delivered by Caesarean section at or after 26 weeks gestation. Outcomes for women with and without placenta praevia were compared. Among women with placenta praevia, antenatal predictors of maternal morbidity were assessed.


A total of 1612 (4.3/1000) women had significant placenta praevia. Women with placenta praevia were more likely to be older, have a prior Caesarean section, require general anaesthetic for delivery and deliver preterm. Among women with placenta praevia, 61% delivered in hospitals with 24-h on site blood banks, 33% in hospitals with on-call blood bank services after hours and 6% in hospitals with no blood bank. Two hundred and twenty three (14%) women with placenta praevia suffered a major morbidity (OR = 15.0, 95%CI 12.9-17.4). The proportion of this morbidity that occurred among women delivered electively at term was 40% in hospitals with 24 h blood banks and 55% in other hospitals (P = 0.06).


For women with placenta praevia, the risk of major morbidity is high, yet 39% deliver in hospitals without immediate access to a 24-h blood bank. Australian guidelines on the appropriate level of care for women with placenta praevia are needed.

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