A foetus may die if the placenta is smallAugust 3rd, 2009 - 2:48 pm ICT by IANS
Washington, Aug 3 (IANS) The size of a placenta can determine whether a foetus survives or not. A small placenta can mean the foetus is starved of food and oxygen and may cause it to die, says a new study.
Limits in current technology prevent monitoring the growth of the placenta, which, like the petrol tank of a car, fuels the foetus.
Foetal death, or intrauterine foetal demise (IUFD), affects 30,000 women every year in the US alone. Until now, there has been no easy way to determine how much “petrol” is left in the placenta’s tank.
Harvey J. Kliman, study co-author and scientist at the the Yale School of Medicine (YSM), decided to study this issue after noting that many late-term pregnancy losses were associated with very small placentas.
He theorised that in much the same way that an obstetrician uses ultra-sounds to follow the growth of the foetus, or a paediatrician weighs and measures children to ensure they are growing normally, the growth of the foetus’ placenta could be monitored.
When Kliman asked perinatologists (maternal foetal medicine specialists) why they did not look at the placenta when performing routine ultra-sounds, the answer was always the same.
The placenta is a curved structure and is too difficult to measure. If they had to measure the placental volume they would need a very expensive machine, specialised training and more time.
With the help of his father, Merwin Kliman, a mathematician and electrical engineer, Kliman developed an equation that used the maximal width, height and thickness of the placenta.
“In this study, we showed that the equation predicted the actual placental weight with an accuracy of up to 89 percent,” said Kliman.
“The method works best during the second and early third trimester, just when routine ultrasound screening is done on many women in the US.”
These results were published in the Monday issue of the American Journal of Perinatology.
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Tags: american journal of perinatology, current technology, electrical engineer, foetal medicine, foetus, journal of perinatology, kliman, medicine specialists, merwin, obstetrician, paediatrician, petrol tank, placenta, pregnancy losses, routine ultrasound, school of medicine, term pregnancy, third trimester, ultrasound screening, yale school of medicine