New research has shown that single women over 35 are at a greater risk of a life-threatening placental abruption.
The rare, but serious, condition causes the placenta to separate prematurely before the baby is born.
It can lead to severe bleeding, putting both mother and baby’s life at risk.
Researchers from Aberdeen University, in collaboration with NHS Grampian, found that women over the age of 35 were at greater risk of the condition.
And that risk increased in single women and pregnancies complicated with unexplained bleeding, placenta praevia and preeclampsia.
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Dr Sohinee Bhattacharya, who led the study, said: “In this study we observed two pregnancies in the same woman – one with and one without placental abruption.
“This meant we could examine how the pregnancies differed in respect of some known risk factors for placental abruption.
“Using this type of design, we were able to look at the effects of some modifiable risk factors such as maternal age and weight, smoking, social class on the risk of placental abruption while keeping some other factors such as genetic susceptibility constant.
“The association of advanced maternal age especially above 35 years with increased risk of placental abruption was a new finding – no one has described this link before.
“So – taking this new association into account, it is important to counsel women above 35 years regarding the risks of adverse outcomes not just before conceiving their first pregnancy but also before their subsequent pregnancy.”
Sheena Lonchay, operations manager at the NHS Grampian Endowment Fund, who along with THL Finland and Health department Malta funded the research, said: “NHS Grampian Endowment Fund welcomed the opportunity to fund the University of Aberdeen’s research project into placental abruption.
“This valuable work helps to retain Aberdeen’s reputation as a centre of excellent health sciences research.”