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Histopathology. 1993 Mar;22(3):219-25.

Placental malaria. II. A semi-quantitative investigation of the pathological features.

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  • 1Division of Pathology, School of Pathological Sciences, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, UK.


Malaria in pregnancy is associated with reduced birth weight. Most pathological studies of placental malaria infection have focused on severe Plasmodium falciparum infection. In the present study of 121 placentas delivered in a rural area of The Gambia, malaria infection was diagnosed in tissue sections using a simple classification system and severity of pathology was ranked semiquantitatively. Deposition of malaria pigment in circulating cells was associated with active infections whereas pigment in fibrin was a feature of active-chronic infections. Primigravidae had higher levels of pigment at all sites, although these observations were not always significant. Thickening of the trophoblast basement membrane occurred in all infection categories but fibrinoid necrosis of chorionic villi was a feature of active and active-chronic infection. Both birth weight and placental weight were increased in infected placentas but widespread trophoblast basement membrane thickening was associated with decreased birth weight. Both birth weight and placental weight decreased with increased fibrinoid necrosis and cytotrophoblast prominence but the results were not significant. By this approach it has been possible to correlate placental pathology with different infection categories and to analyse the pathological features associated with decreased birth weight.

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