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Asked and Answered: All About Thrombophilia & Pregnancy

Thrombophilia. A word as weighty as its meaning. If you haven’t heard of the term before, allow us to fill you in.

Q1. What is thrombophilia?

Thrombophilia is a blood condition that increases the body’s tendency to develop clots. Clotting is the body’s natural response to a cut, gash or tear – a way of preventing excessive blood loss. Thrombophilia accelerates this clotting mechanism.

Q2. Is thrombophilia hereditary?

Thrombophilia can be acquired or inherited, and can be a serious risk to pregnancy. The most common inherited conditions during pregnancy are mutations in factor V Leiden, the prothrombin gene, and methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase.

Q3. What are the signs and symptoms of thrombophilia?

Thrombophilia doesn’t present any outwardly symptoms. Its first visible manifestation is usually a blood clot. A clot, depending on where it is, can give rise to secondary symptoms. For example, a blood clot in the legs can lead to swelling; one in the lungs can cause difficulty breathing. If you have had a history of any of these, it’s wise to have thrombophilia ruled out. If you have previously been diagnosed with the condition or have a blood relative with it, share this information with your doctor to discuss the best way forward.

Q4. What is the effect of thrombophilia on pregnancy?

Left untreated, thrombophilia can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, growth restriction, placental dysfunction, preeclampsia, preterm labour and low birth weight. An early treatment plan can minimise risks for you and your baby during pregnancy.

Q5. How is thrombophilia treated?

Treatment for thrombophilia pivots on various factors, such as the type of thrombophilia, past clots, and related medical conditions. Usually, a blood thinner, with or without other medications, is prescribed. A low-molecular weight heparin is also considered an effective anticoagulant.

Q6. When should I be screened for thrombophilia?

If you’ve experienced recurrent miscarriages or stillbirth, or have previously delivered a low birth weight baby, don’t leave any future pregnancies to chance. Have yourself screened for thrombophilia. Being diagnosed is your first step to a healthy pregnancy. And your last, from repeated cycles of disappointment.