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Placental tissue destruction and insufficiency from COVID-19 causes stillbirth and neonatal death From hypoxic-ischemic injury: A study of 68 cases with SARS-CoV-2 Placentitis from 12 countries

A study of 68 cases of COVID-19 related placental infection (SARS-CoV-2 Placentitis) from 12 countries shows that placental tissue injury from COVID-19 causes stillbirth and neonatal death through hypoxic-ischemic injury.

Brendan Fitzgerald
Journal Name
Archives of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine
Journal Article
COVID-19, Miscarriage, Neonatal death, Perinatal pathology, Stillbirth
Full Citation
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, Gergis 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, Otani ARO, 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. Placental tissue destruction and insufficiency from COVID-19 causes stillbirth and neonatal death from hypoxic-ischemic injury. Archives of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine. 2022;146(6):660-676.
Link to Publication


Fetal and neonatal death is an important problem as the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic continues, but the mechanism of death has been unclear. A multinational group of 44 perinatal specialists from 12 countries collected placental and post mortem pathology findings from 64 stillborns and 4 neonatal deaths where placentas tested positively for the SARS-CoV-2 virus following delivery to mothers with a history of COVID-19. Severe destructive placental disease from SARS-CoV-2 placentitis (placental infection) involved 78% of the placental tissue, on average. The majority (19; 63%) of the 30 post mortems revealed no significant fetal anomalies except for intrauterine hypoxia (lack of oxygen in utero). The study shows that the pathological anomalies composing SARS-CoV-2 placentitis cause widespread and severe placental destruction resulting in placental compromise. In these cases, intrauterine and perinatal death likely results directly from placental insufficiency and lack of oxygen supply to the fetus. There was no evidence that SARS-CoV-2 involvement of the fetus had a role in causing these deaths.

Pregnancy Loss Research Group

Pregnancy Loss Research Group, Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, University College Cork, Fifth Floor, Cork University Maternity Hospital, Wilton, Cork, T12 YE02, Ireland,