Is adverse pregnancy outcome predictable after blunt abdominal trauma?

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The aim of the study was to evaluate the following: (1) pregnancy outcome after blunt abdominal trauma and (2) factors that may predict preterm birth and adverse peripartum outcomes.


All women who had noncatastrophic abdominal trauma and came to the labor and delivery suite July 1994-August 1997 were prospectively evaluated and admitted for continuous uterine and fetal monitoring. A complete blood cell count, coagulation profile, and Kleihauer-Betke stain were performed. Ultrasonographic examination was performed to rule out hematoma. Tocolytic agents were administrated in cases with persistent contractions. Pregnancy outcomes and risk factors were compared between those with preterm birth before 37 weeks' gestation and those who were delivered after 37 weeks' gestation.


Delivery information was available for 85 women with blunt abdominal trauma from motor vehicle accident (28), falls (27), and direct assault (30, which included 17 cases of domestic abuse). Four women, 3 of whom were exposed to domestic abuse, were hospitalized twice. Thirteen patients had preterm birth and 72 patients were delivered at term. In all cases the results of Kleihauer-Betke stains, maternal vital signs, blood cell count, coagulation profile, and placental ultrasonographic examinations were normal. The differences between the 2 groups with respect to gestational age at the time of trauma, length of hospital stay, subjective reports of abdominal pain, objective findings of abdominal tenderness, patterns of uterine contractions, interval between trauma and delivery, and Apgar scores were not statistically significant. However, the preterm birth group received magnesium sulfate tocolysis more frequently (31% vs 7%) and had a significantly greater rate of peripartum complications, such as rupture of membranes and abruptio placentae, than the group of patients who delivered at term (46.2% vs 12.5%, P < .05). Women with domestic abuse had increased uterine contractions at the time of abdominal trauma (52.9% vs 19.1%, P = .01) but did not require increased use of tocolysis. Women with domestic abuse had more peripartum complications (41.8% vs 11.8%, P < .01).


Women with noncatastrophic blunt abdominal trauma in pregnancy tend to have favorable neonatal outcomes. Findings or reports of abdominal tenderness and uterine contractions are not predictive of preterm birth. Preterm birth was associated with increased peripartum complications. However, domestic abuse was associated with repeated trauma in the index pregnancy and increased peripartum complications. (Am J Obstet Gynecol 1998;179:1140-4.)

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