Treatment of poor placentation and the prevention of associated adverse outcomes – what does the future hold?


  • Funding sources: This research was funded by the European Commission Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) and supported by researchers at the National Institute for Health Research University College London Hospitals Biomedical Research Centre.

  • Conflicts of interest: ALD is an unpaid consultant and director of Magnus Growth, part of Magnus Life Science, which is aiming to take to market a novel treatment for fetal growth restriction.


Poor placentation, which manifests as pre-eclampsia and fetal growth restriction, is a major pregnancy complication. The underlying cause is a deficiency in normal trophoblast invasion of the spiral arteries, associated with placental inflammation, oxidative stress, and an antiangiogenic state. Peripartum therapies, such as prenatal maternal corticosteroids and magnesium sulphate, can prevent some of the adverse neonatal outcomes, but there is currently no treatment for poor placentation itself. Instead, management relies on identifying the consequences of poor placentation in the mother and fetus, with iatrogenic preterm delivery to minimise mortality and morbidity. Several promising therapies are currently under development to treat poor placentation, to improve fetal growth, and to prevent adverse neonatal outcomes. Interventions such as maternal nitric oxide donors, sildenafil citrate, vascular endothelial growth factor gene therapy, hydrogen sulphide donors, and statins address the underlying pathology, while maternal melatonin administration may provide fetal neuroprotection. In the future, these may provide a range of synergistic therapies for pre-eclampsia and fetal growth restriction, depending on the severity and gestation of onset. © 2014 The Authors. Prenatal Diagnosis published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.