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Excessive blood loss during or after delivery of a baby may affect the function of the pituitary gland, leading to a form of maternal hypopituitarism known as Sheehan syndrome. Such extensive bleeding may reduce the blood flow to the pituitary gland and hence the amount of oxygen available to the cells of the brain and the gland. In such circumstances the pituitary cells may be damaged or die (necrosis) and thus the production of the usual pituitary hormones will be reduced, perhaps by a significant amount.
During pregnancy the pituitary gland will enlarge and may double in size. At this time the gland is especially vulnerable to "shock" and excessive maternal bleeding may induce the "shock" and the damage to the cells of the gland. At that time the balance of hormones produced by the pituitary may be thrown off giving rise to the symptoms associated with Sheehan syndrome.
There appear to be two forms of the disorder; a chronic form and an acute form, depending on the amount of damage to the gland's cells. The acute form reflects considerable damage so that symptoms become apparent soon after delivery. In chronic cases, the volume of damage is much less and symptoms may not appear for months or years after delivery.
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This is an abstract of a report from the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD). A copy of the complete report can be downloaded free from the NORD website for registered users. The complete report contains additional information including symptoms, causes, affected population, related disorders, standard and investigational therapies (if available), and references from medical literature. For a full-text version of this topic, go to www.rarediseases.org and click on Rare Disease Database under "Rare Disease Information".
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It is possible that the title of this topic is not the name you selected. Please check the Synonyms listing to find the alternate name(s) and Disorder Subdivision(s) covered by this report
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Last Updated: 2/1/2012
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