What Is Molar Pregnancy ?
A molar pregnancy occurs when there is an abnormality during the fertilization of the egg or when there is an abnormality in the cells that form the placenta. This type of pregnancy is also known as hydatidiform mole. This type of pregnancy is considered to non-cancerous tumor, which is curable. A molar pregnancy can be complete or partial.
When an egg is fertilized, it gets twenty-three chromosomes each from the mother and father. When the molar pregnancy is complete, the embryo does not contain any chromosomes from the other. Instead the embryo contains 46 chromosomes which are nothing but duplicate chromosomes of the father. So, the embryo has 2 copies of the chromosomes which belong to the father. In such a pregnancy, the embryo does not develop a placenta or the amniotic sac. Instead, the placenta develops into cysts, which can be diagnosed with the help of an ultrasound.
In a partial molar pregnancy, the embryo gets 23 chromosomes from the mother’s side but 46 chromosomes from the father’s side. So, instead of having 43 chromosomes, the embryo has 69 chromosomes. This type of molar pregnancy occurs when 2 sperms fertilize a single egg or when the chromosomes in the sperm suddenly duplicate themselves. Here too the development of the placenta is affected. While in this pregnancy the fetus may develop to a certain extent, it will have genetic defect. Hence, the fetus does not survive to grow into a healthy baby.
This type of pregnancy is seen in one pregnancy out every thousand. Also, molar pregnancy is seen more frequently in women of Asian descent. However, researchers are still not sure why this is so. It has also been seen that women who have B blood group are at risk of getting molar pregnancies.
Once a molar pregnancy is detected, the doctor will take steps to terminate such a pregnancy. Thereafter, the woman is put under observation for the next 6 months. This is primarily to ensure that the benign tumor does not spread to other organs. The doctor monitors the woman’s health with the help of hCG levels. If the levels rise, it is a sign that the tumor has spread. At times, the tumor can penetrate into the uterus’ muscular layer. This usually occurs after the dilation and curettage procedure. This requires immediate medical attention, as the tumor can get into the bloodstream and invade other organs, such as the liver, brain or lungs. This is known as an invasive mole, and is more frequently seen after a woman is diagnosed with a complete molar pregnancy.
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