Using Standardized Placenta Pathology to Better Understand Placenta-Mediated Diseases

Abnormal placental development and placental dysfunction lie at the heart of the most serious obstetrical complication faced today, including intrauterine fetal growth restriction (IUGR), preeclampsia, preterm birth and intrauterine fetal demise (stillbirth). Collectively these obstetrical complications are known as placenta-mediated diseases. Through detailed examination and investigation of the placenta following delivery – placenta pathology - we can gain tremendous insight into the intra-uterine environment, identifying errors in placental development or insults inflicted upon the placenta across gestation. This information allows us to better understand how placenta-mediated diseases may arise and may further help identify effective therapeutic interventions to improve pregnancy outcomes. In this vein the Placenta Lab has been working in close collaboration with the Pathology Department at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) to develop standardized placenta pathology evaluation tools that optimize the quality and consistency of information collected through standard clinical placental pathology procedures. In collaboration with Dr. David Grynspan, perinatal pathologist at CHEO, the Placenta Lab is currently investigating how standardized placental pathology evaluation tools may be used to:

  • Identify key placental lesions associated with different placenta-mediated diseases

  • Identify/diagnose distinct molecular subclassification of preeclampsia

  • Improve postpartum maternal and neonatal clinical care through improved clinical reporting of placenta pathology findings

  • Identify mothers at highest risk of recurrent placenta-mediated disease

  • Identify mothers at highest risk of life-long cardiovascular disease


Image by Samantha Benton