Pregnancy-induced thrombocytopenia is a blood condition that occurs during pregnancy and reduces the amount of oxygen your blood can carry. It’s due to increased fluid from pregnancy.

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Thrombocytopenia is a condition that can happen to anyone. People with thrombocytopenia have a low platelet count, which can keep your blood from clotting and increase your chance of dangerous bleeding.

Mild thrombocytopenia happens in about 12% of pregnancies and is the primary cause of low platelet counts during pregnancy. It’s unclear how often thrombocytopenia in pregnancy is actually pregnancy-induced.

This article will look at pregnancy-induced thrombocytopenia, how doctors treat it, and whether it can affect the health of the fetus.

Learn more about thrombocytopenia.

Pregnancy-induced thrombocytopenia is a blood condition. In any form of thrombocytopenia, platelets (thrombocytes), a type of blood cell, are reduced.

In thrombocytopenia, platelet counts drop to 150,000 per microliter (μL) or under. The typical range is 150,000–450,000 per μL. The threshold for diagnosing pregnancy-induced thrombocytopenia is a bit lower, at 116,000 per μL or under.

Other forms of thrombocytopenia can affect you during pregnancy, but pregnancy-induced thrombocytopenia is actually due to the way being pregnant has affected your body.

Although different types of thrombocytopenia may have symptoms, pregnancy-induced thrombocytopenia doesn’t have any prominent symptoms.

Some people may experience mild symptoms often considered typical symptoms during pregnancy, such as:

It’s not a significant cause of maternal bleeding, and often, doctors only diagnose it through routine lab testing.

The primary cause of thrombocytopenia during pregnancy is the effects of all the extra volume the body is carrying to support a fetus.

Plasma, the main liquid element in your body, increases by 6% at the start of pregnancy and peaks at around 50% just before delivery. This increase in the fluid inside your body may dilute your blood cell counts and other nutrients.

Generally, experts think of this condition as a physiologic response to pregnancy rather than a disorder. However, people who have had thrombocytopenia in previous pregnancies or who have had multiple pregnancies overall have a higher chance of this condition. It typically occurs late in pregnancy and resolves after delivery.

Other causes of thrombocytopenia during pregnancy that may cause your platelet count to drop significantly and require more intensive treatment include:

If you have thrombocytopenia during your pregnancy, your doctor will determine if another condition that may need treatment has caused it.

Pregnancy-induced thrombocytopenia generally doesn’t require any particular treatment. A doctor may monitor you throughout your pregnancy for additional drops in your platelet count, but the condition usually resolves on its own within a month or two of delivery.

Generally, the health of people who develop pregnancy-induced thrombocytopenia is good, even with a low platelet count. The same is true for developing fetuses and newborn infants.

According to one paper, no babies born to those with pregnancy-induced thrombocytopenia had any form of thrombocytopenia themselves at birth.

Pregnant individuals and their babies have a good outlook after pregnancy-induced thrombocytopenia.

For the birthing parent, platelet counts tend to return to typical ranges 4–8 weeks after delivery. Infants born to people with this condition don’t seem to carry any ongoing effects, either.

How do you treat valproate-induced thrombocytopenia?

Valproic acid is a medication that controls seizures and treats mood disorders, but thrombocytopenia is a possible and serious side effect of the medication.

If you develop thrombocytopenia while taking valproic acid, talk with your healthcare professional. They’ll guide you through the process of stopping the medication and transitioning to an alternative medication.

In some cases, you may need a platelet transfusion to help you overcome this medication effect.

Whats the life expectancy of a person with immune thrombocytopenia (ITP)?

People with ITP acquire the condition after an immune reaction triggers an attack on their body’s platelets.

Mortality rates for adults with this condition are 0–7% due to complications like major bleeding, bleeding in the central nervous system, and cancer from infections related to immunotherapy.

Can pregnancy cause thrombocythemia?

Thrombocythemia is the opposite of thrombocytopenia. It causes your body to produce too many platelets. The chance of blood clots is increased in general during pregnancy, and essential thrombocythemia (ET) can further increase this likelihood.

Although doctors often diagnose it in older adults or people with genetic mutations, roughly 1 in 3 pregnancies where ET is present end in miscarriage or spontaneous abortion in the first two trimesters. Pregnancy may not cause ET, but about 20% of people get a diagnosis of the condition during their reproductive years.

Your body undergoes a lot of changes during pregnancy. Beyond the needs of the developing fetus, your body also has to support the demands of reproduction. Increased fluid volume can dilute the nutrients and other essential elements in your body.

A drop in platelets during pregnancy isn’t uncommon and usually has no lasting effect on you or your baby. If you have a diagnosis of thrombocytopenia before or during your pregnancy, talk with your healthcare team about your specific risks and what kind of monitoring you’ll need.