BACKGROUND: The placenta is a most interesting but unfortunately often ignored and misunderstood organ. Placental abnormalities, therefore, can be an "early warning system" for fetal problems. A complete prenatal sonographic examination of the placenta is an essential component as its abnormalities can have a direct effect on fetal or maternal outcomes, obstetrical management and future fertility.
OBJECTIVE: To determine whether any association exists between the finding of an increased thickness of placenta, abnormal placenta shape, placental calcification, placental lake and abnormal cord insertion site at 20-22 and 30-32 weeks gestation with an increased risk of uteroplacental complications or a poor pregnancy outcome.
METHODOLOGY: A real-time ultrasound was used at the time of detail scan (at 20-22 weeks gestation) and at 30-32 weeks gestation to look for placenta appearance, fetal growth and anomaly. The main outcome measures were risk of hypertension disease in pregnancy, fetal growth restriction and poor fetal outcomes such as low Apgar score and low cord pH.
RESULT: The majority of the participants were Malay (77.9%). Abnormal placenta found at both gestations were placental lakes and thickness, and only one case had marginal cord insertion. Approximately 6% of the cases were confirmed placenta previa. No abnormal shape or abnormal calcification found at both gestations. About 10% patient developed hypertensive disease in pregnancy, 15% of the fetus was found to have growth restriction and another 16% have low umbilical cord pH. Majority of them delivered at term (90%) and via vaginal delivery (81%). There was no significance between presence of abnormal placental lake and thickness at both gestations with the maternal and fetal outcome.
CONCLUSION: Presence of abnormal placental thickness and lakes at 30-32 weeks scan associated with maternal hypertensive disease, fetal growth restriction and low umbilical cord pH, however these were not statistically significant.
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