OBJECTIVE: To estimate whether there are placental histopathologic abnormalities associated with neonatal periventricular leukomalacia (PVL), a major precursor of cerebral palsy.
METHODS: This is a case-control study of 167 neonates born between 23 and 34 weeks of gestation diagnosed with PVL by head ultrasonography within 6 weeks of birth, and 167 control neonates without neurologic morbidity matched by gestational age. Placentas for both case neonates and control neonates were reviewed by two perinatal pathologists who were blinded to neonatal course.
RESULTS: Neonates with PVL were significantly more likely to have positive neonatal blood (28.7%, 16.8%, P=.001) and cerebrospinal fluid (14.4%, 4.8%, P=.007) cultures. The ratio of placental weight to birth weight did not differ between groups, but neonates with PVL had significantly more chronic diffuse capsular deciduitis (20.4%, 10.8%, P=.02) and capsular decidual plasma cells (8.4%, 2.4%, P=.02). Conditional logistic regression adjusting for birth weight and the presence of multiple gestation in the identification of PVL showed a significant increase for diffuse capsular deciduitis (P=.02) and capsular decidual plasma cells (P=.03).
CONCLUSION: Periventricular leukomalacia has a significant but weak association with chronic diffuse capsular deciduitis and the presence of capsular decidual plasma cells, evidence of chronic infection but not histologic acute chorioamnionitis.
LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: II