Background: The placenta is crucial for the overall development and lifelong health of the fetus. Abnormal placental development and function occur in pregnancies with fetal congenital heart disease. However, studies that use standardized diagnostic criteria and incorporate control populations are lacking. This limits the generalizability of current research and the ability to determine the specific placental abnormalities associated with congenital heart disease. Objective: This study applied consensus statement guidelines (known as the Amsterdam criteria) for placental pathology interpretation to compare the frequency and pattern of abnormalities in pregnancies with fetal congenital heart disease to demographically matched control pregnancies and evaluate for differences in placental abnormalities by cardiac physiology. Study Design: A single-center retrospective cohort study was conducted from January 2013 to June 2019. Infants with a prenatal diagnosis of moderate-severe congenital heart disease who were born at ≥37 weeks of gestation were included. A control group born at ≥37 weeks of gestation but without fetal congenital heart disease or other major pregnancy complications was matched to the congenital heart disease group on maternal race and ethnicity and infant sex. Using the Amsterdam criteria, placental pathology findings were categorized as delayed villous maturation, maternal vascular malperfusion, fetal vascular malperfusion, and inflammatory lesions. The frequency of placental abnormalities was compared between groups, and logistic regression was performed to evaluate the association of clinical and sociodemographic factors with delayed villous maturation, maternal vascular malperfusion, and fetal vascular malperfusion. Results: There were 194 pregnancies with fetal congenital heart disease and 105 controls included, of whom 83% in the congenital heart disease group and 82% in the control group were of non-Hispanic White race and ethnicity. Compared with controls, pregnancies with fetal congenital heart disease had higher rates of delayed villous maturation (6% vs 19%; P<.001) and maternal vascular malperfusion (19% vs 34%; P=.007) but not fetal vascular malperfusion (6% vs 10%; P=.23). Infants with congenital heart disease with 2-ventricle anatomy displayed the highest odds of delayed villous maturation compared with controls (odds ratio, 5.5; 95% confidence interval, 2.2–15.7; P<.01). Maternal vascular malperfusion was 2.2 times higher (P=.02) for infants with 2-ventricle anatomy and 2.9 times higher (P=.02) for infants with single-ventricle physiology with pulmonic obstruction. Within the congenital heart disease group, delayed villous maturation was associated with higher maternal body mass index, polyhydramnios, larger infant birth head circumference, and infant respiratory support in the delivery room, whereas maternal vascular malperfusion was associated with oligohydramnios. In multivariable models adjusting for cardiac diagnosis, associations of delayed villous maturation persisted for infant birth head circumference (odds ratio, 1.2; 95% confidence interval, 1.0–1.5; P=.02) and infant respiratory support in the delivery room (odds ratio, 3.0; 95% confidence interval, 1.3–6.5; P=.007). Conclusion: Pregnancies with fetal congenital heart disease displayed higher rates of delayed villous maturation and maternal vascular malperfusion than controls, suggesting that placental maldevelopment may relate to maternal factors. Future investigations are needed to determine the association of these abnormalities with postnatal infant outcomes.
- congenital heart disease
- delayed villous maturation
- fetal vascular malperfusion
- maternal vascular malperfusion