A placental abruption is when the placenta separates from the uterus before a child is born. When that happens, the baby can be deprived of oxygen while in the womb, and it can also suffer from a lack of nutrients. Severe bleeding can be another side effect of a placental abruption.
It makes sense, because of a lack of oxygen and nutrients, that babies in that state can be at risk of slow or no growth. They can also be stillborn or born early, leading to other sets of problems for the child.
A placental abruption takes place in about 1 out of 150 pregnancies, making it common enough that your OB-GYN should be well aware of the dangers. It can happen any time following your 20th week, making it a risk for anyone entering the second or third trimesters. At that point, if you're complaining of the symptoms, your OB-GYN should be considering a placental abruption and taking actions to verify that yours is not damaged.
There are some warning signs of placental abruptions. Most commonly, vaginal bleeding takes place; it can be sudden or be only a small amount. Sometimes there is no blood, though, so it doesn't have to be present to indicate a problem. Back pain and tenderness is common, as is going into premature labor.
Without recognizing this problem, some babies can die or be severely disabled. It's important to know that if this has happened to you, you can seek compensation for negligence in some cases when your medical provider should have recognized your symptoms.
Source: BabyCenter, "Placental abruption," accessed March 17, 2016