Thrombocytopenia in pregnancy

Douglas B. Cines and Lisa D. Levine


Thrombocytopenia develops in 5-10% of women during pregnancy or in the immediate post-partum period. A low platelet count is often an incidental feature, but it can also provide a biomarker of a coexisting systemic or gestational disorder and a potential reason for a maternal intervention or treatment that might pose harm to the fetus. This chapter reflects our approach to these issues with an emphasis on advances in understanding and managing the more common causes of thrombocytopenia in pregnancy made over the past 5-10 years. Recent trends in the management of immune thrombocytopenia translate into more women on treatment with thrombopoeitin receptor agonists, rituximab or mycophenylate when contemplating pregnancy that pose known or unknown risks to the fetus. New criteria to diagnose preeclampsia, judicious reliance on measurement of ADAMTS13 to make management decisions in suspected thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura, new evidence supporting the efficacy and safety of anti-complement therapy for atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome during pregnancy, and implications of thrombotic microangiopathies for subsequent pregnancies are evolving rapidly. The goals of the chapter are to help the hematology consultant work through the differential diagnosis of thrombocytopenia in pregnancy based on trimester of presentation, severity of thrombocytopenia and coincident clinical and laboratory manifestations, and to provide guidance for dealing with some of the more common and difficult diagnostic and management decisions.

  • Submitted May 2, 2017.
  • Accepted June 12, 2017.