Pregnancy Exam: Why Monitor Platelets?

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Pregnancy Exam: Why Monitor Platelets?

The number of blood platelets is regularly checked throughout the pregnancy, during the blood tests taken during prenatal examinations. Most of the time, the analysis does not reveal anything serious but, more rarely, it can highlight a disorder requiring treatment.

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Pregnancy Exam: Why Monitor Platelets?
Pregnancy Exam: Why Monitor Platelets?

Platelet count: two major reasons to evaluate it during pregnancy

Your platelet count is regularly assessed during your pregnancy for two main reasons:

  • First, to detect a possible hemorrhagic risk and to correct it as soon as possible. Indeed, platelets are necessary for the coagulation of the blood. Therefore, when they are too few, the body has difficulty stopping blood loss.
  • Second, because a decrease in platelets (thrombocytopenia) is sometimes the first symptom of a more or less severe disorder; Rapid management then helps to avoid the risk of complications.
  • Note: Additional examinations (blood pressure, other analyses, etc.) may be required to determine the exact cause of thrombocytopenia.

Decline in platelets: the leading causes during pregnancy

  • Ideally, the platelet count should be between 150,000 and 400,000 platelets per mm3 of blood, as “standards” may vary slightly from one laboratory to another.
  • The vast majority of thrombocytopenia detected during pregnancy (about 70-75% of cases) are mild and without any known cause. More precisely, we are talking about essential thrombocytopenia, especially during the third trimester.
  • Good news: this moderate decrease in platelets usually presents no particular risk for you or your future baby! Average delivery may be performed by a little route, except for other medical constraints requiring a cesarean section.
  • More rarely, thrombocytopenia of varying duration during pregnancy may also be due to iron deficiency, certain infections, pregnant arterial hypertension or rhesus incompatibility. The decline in platelets may also be due simply to the intake of certain drugs (antiepileptic drugs, for example).

Low platelet count: what treatments during pregnancy?

  • No treatment is necessary for essential thrombocytopenia. The medical team just monitors its progression, including after pregnancy: a blood test is performed about three months after delivery to check that the platelet count has returned to normal.
  • In the other cases, different treatments may be considered depending on the cause of the platelet decrease, generally of a medicinal nature. Your doctor may, for example, prescribe iron supplementation in case of deficiency, or – in the case of pregnant hypertension – prescribe medications for blood pressure, rest and give dietary recommendations (not too much Salt, fat, and sugar).
  • More rarely, platelet transfusions may be necessary for the most severe forms of thrombocytopenia.

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