Reference Work Entry

Blaustein’s Pathology of the Female Genital Tract

pp 999-1073

Diseases of the Placenta

  • Deborah J. GersellAffiliated withDepartments of Gynecology, Obstetrics, Pathology and Oncology, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and Director of Gynecologic Pathology, The Johns Hopkins HospitalDepartment of Laboratory Medicine, St. John’s Mercy Medical Center Email author 
  • , Frederick T. KrausAffiliated withDepartment of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Weill Cornell Medical College and New York Presbyterian HospitalPerinatal Biology Laboratory, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Washington University School of Medicine


The placenta is crucial for fetal growth and survival, performing the most important functions of many somatic organs before birth. Thus, pathologic processes interfering with placental function may result in abnormalities of fetal growth or development, malformation, or stillbirth, and there is increasing recognition that some long-term (especially neurologic) disabilities can be traced to injury occurring before birth. The purpose of this chapter is to describe clinically important placental lesions and to emphasize the context in which these lesions are directly or indirectly important to the fetus, the mother, or both.