Placental Pathology in Neonatal Stroke: A Retrospective Case-Control Study

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Abstract

Objective

To assess the association of placental abnormalities with neonatal stroke.

Study design

This retrospective case-control study at 3 academic medical centers examined placental specimens for 46 children with neonatal arterial or venous ischemic stroke and 99 control children without stroke, using a standard protocol. Between-group comparisons used χ2 and Fisher exact t test. Correlations used Spearman correlation coefficient.

Results

Case placentas were more likely than controls to meet criteria for ≥1 of 5 major categories of pathologic abnormality (89% vs 62%; OR, 5.1; 95% CI, 1.9–14.0; P = .0007) and for ≥2 categories (38% vs 8%; OR, 7.3; 95% CI, 2.9–19.0; P < .0001). Fetal vascular malperfusion occurred in 50% of cases and 17% of controls (OR, 4.8; 95% CI, 2.2–10.5; P = .0001). Amniotic fluid inflammation occurred in 46% of cases with arterial ischemic stroke vs 25% of controls (OR, 2.6; 95% CI, 1.1–6.1; P = .037). There was evidence of a “stress response” (meconium plus elevated nucleated red blood cells) in 24% of cases compared with 1% of controls (OR, 31; 95% CI, 3.8–247.0; P < .0001).

Conclusions

Placental abnormality was more common in children with neonatal stroke compared with controls. All placental findings represent subacute-to-chronic intrauterine stressors. Placental thrombotic processes were associated with both arterial and venous stroke. Our findings provide evidence for specific mechanisms that may predispose to acute perinatal stroke. Amniotic fluid inflammation associated with neonatal arterial ischemic stroke deserves further investigation.

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