Maternal Underweight and Obesity Are Associated with Placental Pathologies in Human Pregnancy Journal Articles uri icon

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abstract

  • Maternal underweight and obesity are prevalent conditions, associated with chronic, low-grade inflammation, poor fetal development, and long-term adverse outcomes for the child. The placenta senses and adapts to the pregnancy environment in an effort to support optimal fetal development. However, the mechanisms driving these adaptations, and the resulting placental phenotypes, are poorly understood. We hypothesised that maternal underweight and obesity would be associated with increased prevalence of placental pathologies in term and preterm pregnancies. Data from 12,154 pregnancies were obtained from the Collaborative Perinatal Project, a prospective cohort study conducted from 1959 to 1974. Macro- and microscopic placental pathologies were analysed across maternal prepregnancy body mass index (BMI) to assess differences in the presence of pathologies among underweight, overweight, and obese BMI groups compared to normal weight reference BMI at term and preterm. Placental pathologies were also assessed across fetal sex. Pregnancies complicated by maternal¬†obesity had placentae with increased fetal inflammation at preterm, and increased inflammation of maternal gestational tissues at term. In term pregnancies, increasing maternal BMI associated with increased maternal vascular malperfusion (MVM), odds of an appropriately mature placenta for gestational age, and placental weight, and decreased placental efficiency. Male placentae, independent of maternal BMI, had increased inflammation, MVM, and placental efficiency than female placentae, particularly at term. Maternal underweight and obesity are not inert conditions for the placenta, and the histomorphological changes driven by suboptimal maternal BMI may serve as indicators of adversities experienced in utero and potential predictors of future health trajectories.

publication date

  • December 2022