Preterm birth with placental evidence of malperfusion is associated with cardiovascular risk factors after pregnancy: a prospective cohort study.

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Preterm birth (PTB) is associated with excess maternal cardiovascular disease risk. We considered that women with PTB and placental evidence of maternal malperfusion would be particularly affected.


Pregnancy cohort study.


Pittsburgh, PA, USA.


Women with PTB (n = 115) and term births (n = 210) evaluated 4-12 years after pregnancy.


Cardiometabolic risk markers were compared in women with prior PTB versus term births; pre-eclampsia and growth restriction cases were excluded. Placental evidence of maternal vascular malperfusion (vasculopathy, infarct, advanced villous maturation, perivillous fibrin, intervillous fibrin deposition), acute infection/inflammation (chorioamnionitis, funisitis, deciduitus) and villitis of unknown aetiology (chronic inflammation) was used to classify PTBs.


Carotid artery intima-media thickness (IMT), fasting lipids, blood pressure (BP) and inflammatory markers measured after delivery.


Women with PTB and malperfusion lesions had higher total cholesterol (+13.5 mg/dl) and systolic BP (+4.0 mmHg) at follow up compared with women with term births, accounting for age, race, pre-pregnancy BMI, and smoking (P < 0.05). Women with PTB and malperfusion accompanied by inflammatory lesions had the most atherogenic profile after pregnancy (cholesterol +18.7, apolipoprotein B + 12.7 mg/dl; all P < 0.05), adjusted for pre-pregnancy features. Carotid IMT was higher in this group (+0.037 cm, P = 0.031) accounting for pre-pregnancy factors; differences were attenuated after adjusting for BP and atherogenic lipids at follow up (+0.027, P = 0.095).


PTBs with placental malperfusion were associated with an excess maternal cardiometabolic risk burden in the decade after pregnancy. The placenta may offer insight into subtypes of PTB related to maternal cardiovascular disease.


Preterm births with placental malperfusion may mark women at higher cardiovascular disease risk.

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