Schwartz DA, Avvad-Portari E, Babál P, Baldewijns M, Blomberg M, Bouachba A, Camacho J, Collardeau-Frachon S, Colson A, Dehaene I, Ferreres JC, Fitzgerald B, Garrido-Pontnou M, Gerges H, Hargitai B, Helguera-Repetto AC, Holmström S, Irles CL, Leijonhfvud Å, Libbrecht S, Marton T, McEntagart N, Molina JT, Morotti R, Nadal A, Navarro A, Nelander M, Oviedo A, Oyamada Otani AR, Papadogiannakis N, Petersen AC, Roberts DJ, Saad AG, Sand A, Schoenmakers S, Sehn JK, Simpson PR, Thomas K, Valdespino-Vázquez MY, van der Meeren LE, Van Dorpe J, Verdijk RM, Watkins JC, Zaigham M
Arch Pathol Lab Med - (-) - [2022-02-10; online 2022-02-10]
Perinatal death is an increasingly important problem as the COVID-19 pandemic continues, but the mechanism of death has been unclear. To evaluate the role of the placenta in causing stillbirth and neonatal death following maternal infection with COVID-19 and confirmed placental positivity for SARS-CoV-2. Case-based retrospective clinico-pathological analysis by a multinational group of 44 perinatal specialists from 12 countries of placental and autopsy pathology findings from 64 stillborns and 4 neonatal deaths having placentas testing positive for SARS-CoV-2 following delivery to mothers with COVID-19. All 68 placentas had increased fibrin deposition and villous trophoblast necrosis and 66 had chronic histiocytic intervillositis, the three findings constituting SARS-CoV-2 placentitis. Sixty-three placentas had massive perivillous fibrin deposition. Severe destructive placental disease from SARS-CoV-2 placentitis averaged 77.7% tissue involvement. Other findings included multiple intervillous thrombi (37%; 25/68) and chronic villitis (32%; 22/68). The majority (19, 63%) of the 30 autopsies revealed no significant fetal abnormalities except for intrauterine hypoxia and asphyxia. Among all 68 cases, SARS-CoV-2 was detected from a body specimen in 16 of 28 cases tested, most frequently from nasopharyngeal swabs. Four autopsied stillborns had SARS-CoV-2 identified in internal organs. The pathology abnormalities composing SARS-CoV-2 placentitis cause widespread and severe placental destruction resulting in placental malperfusion and insufficiency. In these cases, intrauterine and perinatal death likely results directly from placental insufficiency and fetal hypoxic-ischemic injury. There was no evidence that SARS-CoV-2 involvement of the fetus had a role in causing these deaths.