First-trimester assessment of placenta function and the prediction of preeclampsia and intrauterine growth restriction

Yan Zhong, Methodius Tuuli, Anthony O. Odibo

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

105 Scopus citations


Preeclampsia and intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) are major contributors to perinatal mortality and morbidity worldwide. Both are characterized by impaired trophoblastic invasion of the maternal spiral arteries and their conversion from narrow muscular vessels to wide non-muscular channels. Despite improvement in the understanding of the pathophysiology of these conditions, ability to accurately identify pregnant woman who will develop them is limited. This greatly impairs the development and testing of preventive interventions. While different measures of placental dysfunction have been associated with increased risk for adverse pregnancy outcomes, the ability of any single one to accurately predict these outcomes is poor. Developing predictive tests is further challenged by difficulty in the timing of the measurements, as both the structural and biochemical characteristics of the placenta change with increasing gestational age. The ideal screening test would accurately predict the development of adverse pregnancy outcomes early enough to provide a window for preventive interventions. Improvement in ultrasound technology provides potentially useful novel tools for evaluating placental structure, but measuresments need to be standardized in order to be useful. Maternal serum analyte screening is a noninvasive test of placental biochemical function, but present serum marker alone is not sufficiently accurate to suggest its routine use in clinical practice. The use of first trimester biochemical markers in combination with uterine artery Doppler screening is promising as a potential screening tool. Prospective longitudinal studies using standardized methodology are necessary to further evaluate the choice of parameters and strategies of combination to achieve the best predictive models.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)293-308
Number of pages16
JournalPrenatal Diagnosis
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2010


  • First trimester
  • IUGR
  • Placental vasculature
  • Preeclampsia
  • Serum analytes


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