Placentitis – Causes, Symptoms & Treatment


Placentitis is an inflammatory, mostly bacterial infection of the placenta, which is much less relevant to human medicine today than it is to veterinary medicine. The disease only affects pregnant women and is transmitted vaginally in most cases, causing premature rupture of the amniotic sac, allowing infection to spread to the fetal membranes. As a result, abortion usually occurs in the early stages of pregnancy, whereas the child can often be born in later stages, but is usually not able to survive because of the infected organ structures.

What is placental disease?

In placentitis , there is an inflammatory infection of the placenta . This condition sometimes affects women during pregnancy and can result in abortion of the embryo. Maternal diseases such as syphilis , toxoplasmosis or rubella can spread to the fruit. Most of the time, the infection that causes placental infection is transmitted vaginally.

In diseases such as syphilis, however, transmission via the blood cannot be ruled out if the fetal membranes are intact. Placentitis no longer plays an important role in human medicine.


Transmission of placental infection occurs in most cases with premature rupture of the amnion. If the amnion, which is part of the amniotic sac , is prematurely ruptured or injured, the pathogens transmitted vaginally can easily migrate to the fetal membranes and infect the fetus. The most common cause of placental disease is bacterial, but viruses and fungi are also theoretically possible.

Poor hygiene often plays an increased role in the infection. In addition to group B streptococci , staphylococci , enterococci, bacteria from the chlamydia group and listeria or coliform bacteria are among the most common pathogens of the disease. Listeria in particular reach the fetus via the placenta. Most other bacteria cannot do this. Infection of the placenta automatically infects the fetus.

Symptoms, Ailments & Signs

Symptoms of placental disease depend on both the stage of pregnancy and the type of pathogen. In the case of pathogens from the Chlamydia group, those affected can suffer from Q fever , for example , which causes the symptoms of flu and an at times strong feeling of weakness .

There is also pain that accompanies it. Under certain circumstances, the rupture of the amnion becomes noticeable in the form of discharge. However, since placental disease can have different faces and it is therefore difficult to say anything about the symptoms in general, any kind of malaise during pregnancy should be clarified by a doctor.

Diagnosis & disease progression

The doctor makes the diagnosis of placentitis based on the medical history and accompanying laboratory tests. A placentitis differs in its course with the respective pathogen. Under certain circumstances, severe inflammation can be accompanied by a high fever and greatly increased CRP levels . Depending on the stage of pregnancy, infection of the fetus can cause abortion.

Even if abortion does not occur, the long-term chances of the embryo surviving remain minimal. The pathogens usually migrate into the organs of the embryo. After birth, the child is still infected with the disease. In most cases, therefore, it succumbs to the effects of placental infection, although it may have survived the infection while still in the womb.

When should you go to the doctor?

Placentitis should always be treated by a doctor, as the disease can lead to the loss of the child and thus to a stillbirth or premature birth. To avoid these complications, placentitis should always be diagnosed and treated early. A doctor should be consulted at the first sign of this disease. As a rule, the doctor should be consulted if the pregnant woman suffers from a high fever and a feeling of weakness. The symptoms are very similar to the symptoms of the flu. However, if they persist longer, a doctor should be consulted. Discharge can also indicate placentitis and should also be examined.

The diagnosis and treatment of placental disease can be carried out by a gynecologist . In emergencies, the hospital should be consulted. In most cases, placentitis can be cured by taking antibiotics, resulting in a positive course of the disease without complications.

Treatment & Therapy

Depending on the type of pathogen and the symptoms of the mother, the doctor decides on a course of therapy for placentitis. Basically, the administration of medication during pregnancy is a delicate matter. However, since placental disease is a serious disease that endangers not only the life of the embryo but also the mother, the doctor usually has to opt for drug treatment in this scenario.

In most cases, the administration of antibiotics is essential. Ampicillin is used most frequently, but the type of antibiotic ultimately also depends on the pathogen in the individual case. Depending on how high the mother’s CRP level is and depending on the level of any accompanying fever, the doctor may have to induce a birth that only rarely gives birth to a viable child.


In most cases, placental disease leads to abortion. Even if the child should survive the pregnancy and the birth, the children usually die immediately after birth because they are not capable of surviving. In most cases, the patient’s parents and relatives are then dependent on psychological therapy and treatment, as this leads to depression or other psychological upsets.

The mother is suffering from very severe pain due to the placenta and also from the flu. There is general weakness and a significantly reduced resilience of the patient. Treatment of placental disease is usually not possible. During pregnancy, however, the mother is dependent on taking antibiotics and other medications in order to survive the pregnancy.

The disease that caused it is then passed on to the embryo, so that the child is born with various malformations. Subsequent pregnancies are not affected by placental disease. Contact with pets should be avoided during pregnancy.


There are several guidelines to prevent placental disease. An infection with toxoplasmosis can be triggered, for example, through close contact with pets, especially cats. As a rule, however, this only happens when the animal regularly salivates on the face of the pregnant woman or even comes into contact with wounds on her body. General hygiene is one of the best preventive measures against placental disease.

Infections such as rubella, streptococci or pneumococci can also be prevented by vaccination . In principle, regular blood tests via laboratory tests are recommended during pregnancy so that any infections can be detected at an early stage. However, since placental disease in humans is rare today due to the high hygiene standards, pregnant women do not have to live in fear of the disease.


In the case of placental disease, those affected usually only have limited follow-up measures available. With this disease, a quick and, above all, a very early diagnosis is primarily necessary in order to alleviate the symptoms of the disease in good time and to limit them. As a rule, there is no self-healing, so that those affected by this disease are dependent on the treatment of a doctor.

In most cases, those affected are dependent on an abortion of the pregnancy. After this procedure, those affected are dependent on intensive encouragement and support from their own families, whereby loving conversations are particularly necessary in order to prevent the development of depression and other psychological upsets. If the pregnancy continues despite the placental infection, the affected women usually have to take antibiotics.

It should always be taken regularly with the right dosage. If anything is unclear or if you have any questions, you should first contact a doctor. It should also be noted that antibiotics should not be taken together with alcohol. The further course of placental disease depends heavily on the time of diagnosis, so that a general prediction is usually not possible.

You can do that yourself

With this disease, the child of the expectant mother is extremely endangered, which means a great burden for the patient. Therefore, psychotherapeutic support is strongly recommended. The other family members who have to deal with the diagnosis of placentitis can also be included in this therapy. Even if it is often not advisable to take medication during pregnancy, it is essential to follow medical advice. Prescribed medications such as antibiotics must be taken as directed. Not only the health of the patient depends on this compliance, but also that of her child.

The affected patient should be given plenty of rest, if possible even bed rest . Cold calf wraps have proven useful for high fevers. You can lower the temperature gently. In this pregnancy situation, a healthy diet is particularly recommended. The patient’s diet includes lots of fresh fruit, salad and vegetables, as well as high-fiber foods such as oatmeal, wholemeal bread or flaxseed , lean cold cuts and light cheese. The patient is better off avoiding alcohol, sugar and sweets. You can drink a lot of water, tea or diluted juices.

Of course, the affected patient should not smoke and not expose herself to unnecessary stress . Meditation, breathing exercises and relaxation techniques such as Jacobson’s progressive muscle relaxation are well suited to bring the patient to rest.

Lisa Newlon
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Hello! I am Lisa Newlon, and I am a medical writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience in the healthcare industry. I have a Master’s degree in Medicine, and my deep understanding of medical terminology, practices, and procedures has made me a trusted source of information in the medical world.