The role of placental blood vessels in growth restriction and stillbirth

Tommy’s to find out why the placentas from babies who grow slowly have a smaller network of blood vessels than healthy placentas.
  • Author's list

    Professor John Aplin, Nyree Sardena, Professor Melissa Westwood, Dr Adam Stevens, Professor Ed Johnstone

    Start: September 2018
    End: September 2021

  • Research centre

  • Research status

    Ongoing projects

Why do we need this research?

Babies who don’t grow as they should in the womb are at greater risk of being stillborn. One of the main reasons that a baby might not grow as it should is because the placenta is failing. When this happens, the baby can’t get the oxygen and nutrients it needs to survive and grow in the womb.

The placenta contains a network of blood vessels that absorb nutrients and oxygen from the mother’s blood and carry them to the baby. Our researchers have found that babies who do not grow properly have placentas with a smaller network of blood vessels than normal. However, we don’t know why this happens.

We need to understand why the blood vessel network is smaller in these placentas in order to develop new treatments that could prevent stillbirth.

What’s happening in this project?

One of the main reasons that a baby might not grow as it should is because the placenta is failing. When this happens, the baby can’t get the oxygen and nutrients it needs to survive and grow in the womb.

The placenta contains a network of blood vessels that absorb nutrients and oxygen from the mother’s blood and carry them to the baby. Our researchers have found that babies who do not grow properly have placentas with a smaller network of blood vessels than normal. However, we don’t know why this happens.

We need to understand why the blood vessel network is smaller in these placentas in order to develop new treatments that could prevent stillbirth.

What difference will this project make?

By better understanding the blood vessels in placentas, our researchers hope their work could lead to new treatments that improve blood flow to babies. This could help babies grow as they should and reduce the risk of stillbirth.