Placental abruption complicates about 0.3% to 1% of births.[3][4] These incidences for the most part are based on epidemiological studies from medical records and birth certificate data. However, the incidence varies according to the criteria used for the diagnosis. When the placenta is routinely examined by a pathologist, a higher incidence of abruption is reported.[5][6] Furthermore, small abruptions may not be recognised by the delivering physician. The incidence of abruption has risen slightly in recent years, although this may be the consequence of improved ascertainment.[7] The incidence has risen more in black women than in white women.[7]

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