A piece in the puzzle of intrauterine fetal death: pathological findings in placentas from term and preterm intrauterine fetal death pregnancies. Academic Article uri icon


  • To compare pathological findings of placentas from term and preterm pregnancies complicated by intrauterine fetal death (IUFD). A retrospective cohort study was conducted including deliveries complicated by IUFD. A comparison was made between placentas from term and preterm (<37 weeks' gestation) pregnancies complicated by IUFD. A second analysis was undertaken comparing IUFD placentas delivered before and after 34 weeks' gestation. Uteroplacental insufficiency was defined when one or more of the following pathological features were found: placental infarct, poor vascularity of the chorionic villi, intravascular thrombi and vascular occlusion. During the study period, 849 placentas of IUFD were examined. Gross and microscopic pathological finding were noted. When comparing gross and microscopic findings in term and preterm (<37 weeks) IUFD placentas, higher rates of calcifications, tissue congestion and cellular metaplasia were found in term vs. preterm placentas. Significantly increased rates of poor tissue vascularity, placental vascular occlusion and uteroplacental insufficiency were demonstrated in preterm IUFD placentas. When comparing pathological findings in IUFD placentas delivered before and after 34 weeks' gestation, higher rates of abnormal cord insertion, calcifications, tissue congestion, infarcts and intravascular thrombi as well as poor tissue vascularity and placental vascular occlusion were demonstrated in IUFD placentas delivered before 34 weeks. Regardless of gestational age at the time of IUFD in more than 90% of placentas vascular wall thickening was found. A third of both term and preterm placentas demonstrated histological chorioamionitis. A vast majority of IUFD placentas reveal numerous pathological findings that reflect uteroplacental insufficiency and abnormal blood supply. Different characteristics were noted in term and preterm placentas of pregnancies complicated by IUFD. Better definition of causes and associated placental pathological findings of IUFD might aid clinicians in counseling such patients regarding the reason and risk of recurrence in subsequent pregnancies.

publication date

  • January 1, 2009