Pregnancy & Low Platelet Count

Written by jenn foreacre
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Pregnancy & Low Platelet Count
(karindalziel/flickr.com, ZaldyImg/flickr.com)

Low platelet counts often happen for unknown reasons. A standard platelet count falls between 150 and 400 million per millilitre of blood, though the exact number may vary from person to person. Women more commonly experience low platelet count, and it's somewhat common for it to occur during pregnancy.

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What is a Low Platelet Count?

A low platelet count is a count of platelets that is lower than the normal range. During pregnancy it is common for a platelet count to fall slightly, so don't be surprised if your own count is between 100 and 150 million per millilitre of blood. Usually a low platelet count does not warrant serious medical intervention and treatment unless the count is below 100,000. Then there is cause for concern.

Causes

The primary cause for a low platelet count reading in pregnant women is the simple fact that the body produces more blood and plasma (the liquid part of blood) during pregnancy. There is a higher volume of blood coursing throughout the pregnant woman's body, but the same number of platelets. They're spread apart and more diluted, which would trigger the low count. However, a significantly low platelet count is cause for concern, because it could be a sign of an underlying problem that needs to be addressed. HELLP syndrome, a rare complication of pre-eclampsia, lupus, and abnormal medication effects could cause the platelet numbers to fall drastically.

Symptoms

Bruising easily, abnormal bleeding and slow blood clotting are all signs of a low platelet count. Petechiae, which is the appearance of tiny red dots on the skin, is another common sign. Petechiae is caused by broken blood vessels or small leaks in the walls of capillaries. A very low platelet count will produce these symptoms, and may also produce more serious symptoms, such as blood blisters on the insides of cheeks and blood in urine or stools. Generally, the more bleeding symptoms you have, the lower your platelet count may be.

Diagnosis

Diagnosing a low platelet count in a pregnant woman, or in any individual, is usually done with a simple blood test. The results will clearly indicate whether there is a low platelet count. Additional testing may be done over the course of several weeks or months to see if the levels increase or decrease.

Pregnancy & Low Platelet Count
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Treatment

If your platelets are just a little on the low side, then changing your diet to include more healthy choices may help. Drink plenty of fluids and include plenty of proteins, fruits and vegetables in your daily diet to help boost your immune system and platelet-making abilities. For more serious cases of low platelet count during pregnancy, platelet transfusions might be necessary. For pregnant women, doctors will be careful to monitor any bleeding and plan a birth plan accordingly.

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