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04.05.2018 | Original Article Open Access

Characterization of the Placenta in the Newborn with Congenital Heart Disease: Distinctions Based on Type of Cardiac Malformation

Pediatric Cardiology
Jack Rychik, Donna Goff, Eileen McKay, Antonio Mott, Zhiyun Tian, Daniel J. Licht, J. William Gaynor


The placenta is a complex organ that influences prenatal growth and development, and through fetal programming impacts postnatal health and well-being lifelong. Little information exists on placental pathology in the presence of congenital heart disease (CHD). Our objective is to characterize the placenta in CHD and investigate for distinctions based on type of malformation present. Placental pathology from singleton neonates prenatally diagnosed and delivered at > 37 weeks gestation was analyzed. Placental findings of absolute weight, placental weight-to-newborn birth weight ratio, chorangiosis, villus maturity, thrombosis, and infarction were recorded and analyzed based on four physiological categories of CHD: (1) single ventricle-aortic obstruction, (2) single ventricle-pulmonic obstruction, (3) two-ventricle anomalies, and (4) transposition of the great arteries (TGA). Associations between fetal Doppler assessments of middle cerebral/umbilical arterial flow and placental findings were investigated. A total of 120 cases of complex CHD were analyzed. Overall placental-to-birth weight ratios were < 10th percentile for 77% and < 3rd percentile for 49% with abnormalities of chorangiosis (18%), hypomature villi (15%), thrombosis (41%), and infarction (17%) common. There was no association between fetal Doppler flow measures and placental abnormalities. Newborns with TGA had the greatest degree of placental abnormality. Placentas of newborns with CHD are smaller than expected and manifest a number of vascular abnormalities, with TGA most prominent. Fetal Doppler does not correlate with these abnormalities. Studies investigating the relationship between placental abnormalities and postnatal outcomes may offer insight into the fetal origins of outcome variability in CHD.

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