Previous cesarean delivery and risks of placenta previa and placental abruption

Obstet Gynecol. 2006 Apr;107(4):771-8. doi: 10.1097/01.AOG.0000206182.63788.80.


Objective: To examine the association between cesarean delivery and previa and abruption in subsequent pregnancies.

Methods: A retrospective cohort study of first 2 (n = 156,475) and first 3 (n = 31,102) consecutive singleton pregnancies using the 1989-1997 Missouri longitudinally linked data were performed. Relative risk (RR) was used to quantify the associations between cesarean delivery and risks of previa and abruption in subsequent pregnancies, after adjusting for several confounders.

Results: Rates of previa and abruption were 4.4 (n = 694) and 7.9 (n = 1,243) per 1,000 births, respectively. The pregnancy after a cesarean delivery was associated with increased risk of previa (0.63%) compared with a vaginal delivery (0.38%, RR 1.5, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.3-1.8). Cesarean delivery in the first and second births conferred a two-fold increased risk of previa in the third pregnancy (RR 2.0, 95% CI 1.3-3.0) compared with first two vaginal deliveries. Women with a cesarean first birth were more likely to have an abruption in the second pregnancy (0.95%) compared with women who had a vaginal first birth (0.74%, RR 1.3, 95% CI 1.2-1.5). Two consecutive cesarean deliveries were associated with a 30% increased risk of abruption in the third pregnancy (RR 1.3, 95% CI 1.0-1.8). A second pregnancy within a year after a cesarean delivery was associated with increased risks of previa (RR 1.7, 95% CI 0.9-3.1) and abruption (RR 1.5, 95% CI 1.1-2.3).

Conclusion: A cesarean first birth is associated with increased risks of previa and abruption in the second pregnancy. There is a dose-response pattern in the risk of previa, with increasing number of prior cesarean deliveries. A short interpregnancy interval is associated with increased risks of previa and abruption.

Level of evidence: II-2.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Abruptio Placentae / diagnosis
  • Abruptio Placentae / epidemiology*
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Cesarean Section / adverse effects*
  • Cesarean Section / methods
  • Cesarean Section, Repeat / adverse effects
  • Cesarean Section, Repeat / methods
  • Cohort Studies
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Maternal Age
  • Natural Childbirth / adverse effects
  • Natural Childbirth / methods*
  • Parity
  • Placenta Previa / diagnosis
  • Placenta Previa / epidemiology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prevalence
  • Probability
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Assessment