What Does It Mean If You Have Low Platelets During Pregnancy? An Expert Explains

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If you’ve watched ER as many times as I have, you’ll probably begin to say the phrase, “Let’s move,” in regular conversation (thanks Dr. Benton), and you’ll also begin dreaming of the phrase, “Let’s get a CBC and a chem lab,” or some variation of it. Apparently, a CBC means “complete blood count,” and it relates to your platelets. If you’ve heard your OB-GYN ask for a CBC and wanted to monitor your platelets because they’re low, don’t fret yet. But you may be wondering, “What does it mean if you have low platelets during pregnancy?” Fortunately (unfortunately?) you won’t suddenly be rushed to the ER with Noah Wyle giving you CPR.

Dr. Yvonne Bohn, an OB-GYN at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California, tells Romper, “The three most common reasons for low platelets in pregnancy are gestational thrombocytopenia, hypertensive disorders such as preeclampsia leading to low platelet count, and a preexisting autoimmune cause called immune thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP).”

Thankfully, low platelet counts only happen in between 7 and 10 percent of pregnancies, Bohn says. Unfortunately, however, there’s no way to prevent it, but low platelets don’t usually affect the baby “except in ITP,” she adds. It does however, affect you, because you could have problems with hemorrhaging and bleeding. And if you wanted an epidural or anesthesia, you may not be able to get them done if your platelet count is below 80,000, Bohn notes.


So what is the most common cause of low platelet counts? Gestational thrombocytopenia, according to Bohn, and it accounts for 70 percent of cases. “It…

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