Neuroplacentology in congenital heart disease: placental connections to neurodevelopmental outcomes

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20 Scopus citations


Abstract: Children with congenital heart disease (CHD) are living longer due to effective medical and surgical management. However, the majority have neurodevelopmental delays or disorders. The role of the placenta in fetal brain development is unclear and is the focus of an emerging field known as neuroplacentology. In this review, we summarize neurodevelopmental outcomes in CHD and their brain imaging correlates both in utero and postnatally. We review differences in the structure and function of the placenta in pregnancies complicated by fetal CHD and introduce the concept of a placental inefficiency phenotype that occurs in severe forms of fetal CHD, characterized by a myriad of pathologies. We propose that in CHD placental dysfunction contributes to decreased fetal cerebral oxygen delivery resulting in poor brain growth, brain abnormalities, and impaired neurodevelopment. We conclude the review with key areas for future research in neuroplacentology in the fetal CHD population, including (1) differences in structure and function of the CHD placenta, (2) modifiable and nonmodifiable factors that impact the hemodynamic balance between placental and cerebral circulations, (3) interventions to improve placental function and protect brain development in utero, and (4) the role of genetic and epigenetic influences on the placenta–heart–brain connection. Impact: Neuroplacentology seeks to understand placental connections to fetal brain development.In fetuses with CHD, brain growth abnormalities begin in utero.Placental microstructure as well as perfusion and function are abnormal in fetal CHD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)787-794
Number of pages8
JournalPediatric Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Mar 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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