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The relationship between the frequency of published recommended indications for placental pathological examination and the frequency of requests for such examination in a population-based study of term newborn encephalopathy was examined. Only 11.2% of placentas among 276 case infants and 0.7% of placentas among 564 term control infants were examined. Using the criteria set out in a consensus statement by the American College of Pathologists, all 276 cases fulfilled multiple maternal, fetal and placental indications for placental examination. Furthermore 43.3% of control infants fulfilled at least one criterion. Of the 25 case placentas that underwent pathological review, 16 were reported as having no diagnostic abnormality Six cases (24%) showed clinically important findings: four had evidence of infection, one had multiple chorangiomata and one had thrombosis and rupture of the umbilical vein. Of the three remaining placentas, one showed funisitis, one showed minor lymphohistiocytic villitis and one was from monochorionic twins. To our knowledge there are no agreed Australian guidelines for when a placenta should be submitted for pathological examination. We suggest that until guidelines based on properly designed studies are developed it may be appropriate to store all placentas for at least 72 hours. If the infant develops neurological symptoms or requires unexpected admission to a neonatal intensive care unit then placental examination may reveal important aetiological diagnostic and prognostic information.


Journal article


Aust N Z J Obstet Gynaecol

Publication Date





343 - 346


Australia, Brain Diseases, Case-Control Studies, Female, Humans, Incidence, Infant, Newborn, Infant, Newborn, Diseases, Placenta, Pregnancy, Reproducibility of Results, Risk Assessment, Risk Factors, Sensitivity and Specificity