Neurodevelopmental outcomes of near-term small-for-gestational-age infants with and without signs of placental underperfusion

Placenta. 2014 Apr;35(4):269-74. doi: 10.1016/j.placenta.2014.01.010. Epub 2014 Feb 3.


Objective: To evaluate 2-year neurodevelopmental outcomes of near-term, small-for-gestational-age (SGA) newborns segregated by presence or absence of histopathology reflecting placental underperfusion (PUP).

Patients and methods: A cohort of consecutive near-term (≥ 34.0 weeks) SGA newborns with normal prenatal umbilical artery Doppler studies was selected. All placentas were inspected for evidence of underperfusion and classified in accordance with established histologic criteria. Neurodevelopmental outcomes at 24 months (age-corrected) were then evaluated, applying the Bayley Scale for Infant and Toddler Development, Third Edition (Bayley-III) to assess cognitive, language, and motor competencies. The impact of PUP on each domain was measured via analysis of covariance, logistic and ordinal regression, with adjustment for smoking, socioeconomic status, gestational age at birth, gender, and breastfeeding.

Results: A total of 83 near-term SGA deliveries were studied, 46 (55.4%) of which showed signs of PUP. At 2 years, adjusted neurodevelopmental outcomes were significantly poorer in births involving PUP (relative to SGA infants without PUP) for all three domains of the Bayley scale: cognitive (105.5 vs 96.3, adjusted-p = 0.03), language (98.6 vs 87.8, adjusted-p<0.001), and motor (102.7 vs 94.5, adjusted-p = 0.007). Similarly, the adjusted likelihood of abnormal cognitive, language, and motor competencies in instances of underperfusion was 9.3-, 17.5-, and 1.44-fold higher, respectively, differing significantly for the former two domains.

Conclusions: In a substantial fraction of near-term SGA babies without Doppler evidence of placental insufficiency, histologic changes compatible with PUP are still identifiable. These infants are at greater risk of abnormal neurodevelopmental outcomes at 2 years.

Keywords: Doppler; Intrauterine growth restriction; Neurodevelopmental outcomes; Placental underperfusion lesions; Small for gestational age.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child Development*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Small for Gestational Age / growth & development*
  • Male
  • Nervous System / growth & development*
  • Placental Circulation
  • Placental Insufficiency / physiopathology*
  • Pregnancy