Circumvallate Placenta – Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Circumvallate Placenta – Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

The placenta plays an important role during pregnancy. The placenta forms during pregnancy and attaches itself to the wall of the uterus around six to ten days after conception. It provides a growing baby with oxygen and nutrients. A healthy placenta is vital for a healthy pregnancy. If the placenta does not develop correctly, it could affect the baby’s growth. Placental abnormalities such as circumvallate placenta can affect the health of the growing baby. Circumvallate placenta is very rare and can be detected in an ultrasound. Read on to know more about this condition.

What Is Circumvallate Placenta?

When the growth of the placenta results in an abnormal shape, it is called the circumvallate placenta. Here, the chorionic plate of the placenta is too small. When the chorionic plate is too small, the membranes of the fetal side double back during development. It occurs around the edges of the placenta. This will sometimes result in the fetus getting fewer nutrients.

There are times when doctors don’t notice this problem during pregnancy and would notice it only after the delivery. Although the diagnosis is difficult, the condition can be detected during ultrasound scans, around 20 weeks of pregnancy.

What Causes Circumvallate Placenta?

The exact reason for why it happens and what causes it is not yet known to researchers. If you’ve been diagnosed with this condition, the least you could do is take rest and eat healthy.

Who Can Get Circumvallate Placenta?

Circumvallate placenta has been found in women of all ages, races, and geographical locations. There is no real defining factor of who is more likely to get it. It has been seen that around 1% of expecting women are likely to develop it.

Circumvallate Placenta Signs and Symptoms

While circumvallate placenta does not always cause symptoms, some women do experience some pregnancy issues that lead their doctors to feel like circumvallate placenta might be a possibility. Here are a few signs that you may have circumvallate placenta:

1. Slow Foetal Growth

When a mother has a circumvallate placenta, the growth of the foetus tends to be slower. If your doctor finds that your baby does not reach the growth milestones during your regular check-ups, you will need to be tested to figure out the cause. Usually, at this point, your doctor may try to rule out circumvallate placenta through an ultrasound. With a closer look, it can be confirmed if you have it or not.

2. Bleeding From the Vagina

During the first trimester, some women experience more bleeding from the vagina than is normal. A study was conducted that concluded with the opinion that vaginal bleeding was more common in women who had Circumvallate than in others. The study also notes, that since the study was conducted taking into account the data of a small number of women, so this may not be a good representation of all women who develop circumvallate placenta.

3. Premature Rupture of Membranes

Premature Rupture of Membranes (PROM) is another possible sign of circumvallate placenta. PROM takes place with the premature rupture of the amniotic sac. When this occurs before labour, or before a woman has reached 37 weeks of gestation, it is known as the preterm premature rupture of membranes (PPROM). When PROM occurs along with vaginal bleeding, it is a possibility that a mother has developed circumvallate placenta.

How Does Circumvallate Placenta Affect Pregnancy?

The circumvallate placenta can complicate your pregnancy in one or more of the following ways:

1. Placental Abruption

When the placenta is separated from the lining of the uterus too early, it is known as placental abruption. This can cause a lot of bleeding and can put the mother and baby at risk.

2. Miscarriage and Premature Labour

If the circumvallate placenta is severe and not treated, the pregnancy could result in a miscarriage or in the mother going into premature labor.

3. Oligohydramnios

When there is a decrease in the amount of amniotic fluid, it is known as oligohydramnios. The amniotic fluid is helpful to the baby as it forms a cushion around it. Fetal development also benefits from the fluid. The ever-important umbilical cord is safeguarded against getting crushed due to the amniotic fluid. Without the umbilical cord in peak condition, your baby will not get proper nutrients or oxygen.

4. Low Birth Weight

One of the most common problems that are faced by mothers who develop circumvallate placenta is that their babies are born with low weight at birth. This takes place due to the restricted or slow growth of the foetus as a result of the abnormal shape of the placenta.


Circumvallate placenta is not easy to diagnose. However, there are times when doctors may notice that the placenta has formed abnormally during the regular check-ups and ultrasounds. This is really the only way to diagnose circumvallate placenta.

Sometimes, if a mother happens to show some of the symptoms, the doctor may check for the signs of the circumvallate placenta. At other times, nobody knows that they have circumvallate placenta and delivery is the only time it is made known.

If it is diagnosed before birth, doctors can help mothers to prevent their babies from having low birth weight.

Treating Circumvallate Placental Complications

Doctors cannot repair your placenta if you develop circumvallate placenta. However, they can help with managing it. Here are some ways in which your doctor can help you to cope with the complications that can arise out of circumvallate placenta:

1. Intrauterine Restricted Growth

There is no treatment for this, but your doctors will be able to help you to manage this problem. The development of your baby will need to be monitored a lot more than usual. You will be advised to ensure that your diet is very well balanced and packed with nutrients. You will be asked to rest well and develop a healthier lifestyle. If you are a smoker, then you will need to quit anything related to tobacco.

2. Placental Abruption

IV fluids that help with increasing blood pressure may need to be given if you lose too much blood as a result of the ruptured placenta. If it is not time for your baby to be born, bed rest is prescribed.
Sadly, some women have very severe blood loss, resulting in the need to deliver the baby right away. In cases that put either the baby or the mother’s life in danger will result in an emergency C-Section.

3. Oligohydramnios

Women who have low amniotic acid will need a lot more monitoring. There is a treatment that will need to be undertaken known as “Amnioinfusion”. Here, fluid is placed inside the amniotic sac so that the fluid that was lost can be replaced. By doing this, the risk of the umbilical cord getting crushed, or the risk of the lungs being underdeveloped may be reduced.

Is Vaginal Delivery Possible in Case of Circumvallate Placenta?

Though there are plenty of situations when a mother may need to undergo an emergency C-Section in the case of the circumvallate placenta, this is not necessarily the case. Circumvallate placenta outcomes vary from person to person and case to case.

Many mothers have been able to carry their babies to term and have had normal deliveries. If you are diagnosed with circumvallate placenta, the first thing that will happen is that you will be closely monitored. Your baby will be monitored as well. This is all to ensure that everything is going smoothly.

Doctors will only intervene if there is a reason to. Managing the case and trying to help things to flow smoothly so that a normal vaginal birth can occur is always the first option.

Can It Be Prevented?

There is currently no real way to prevent circumvallate placenta as the cause is not yet known. The only thing that can be done is to make sure that mothers who have been diagnosed take very good care to follow the directions given to them by their doctor.


Circumvallate placenta is a very rare condition. The good news is that many mothers have managed to have their little ones with no real issues, despite the abnormality. In the less fortunate cases, the condition leads to other complications that make normal delivery impossible. Circumvallate placenta risks the life of the mother and child if not managed well, so if you have been diagnosed, just remember to consult with your doctor regularly and follow all instructions.

Following your doctor’s advice is the best thing that you can do for your baby’s health and for your health too. As there is nothing known that causes circumvallate placenta, there is no way to suggest how to prevent it from occurring. Your baby needs you, so be sure to keep your health in check. This is the one way that pregnant women can hope for a problem-free pregnancy that results in a smooth delivery.

Also Read:

Placenta Previa in Pregnancy
Placenta Positions in Pregnancy
Calcification of Placenta during Pregnancy

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Aarohi Achwal holds a bachelor’s degree in Commerce and a master’s degree in English Literature. While working as an intern for an English daily, she realised that she likes writing above anything else. The idea of being heard without having to speak appeals to her. She likes to write research-based articles that are informative and relevant. She has written articles on pregnancy, parenting, and relationships. And she would like to continue creating content on health and lifestyle.