Feto-Placental Atherosclerotic Lesions in Intrauterine Fetal Demise: Role of Parental Cigarette Smoking

D Mecchia, A.M Lavezzi, M Mauri, L Matturri*
“Lino Rossi” Research Center for the study and prevention of unexpected perinatal death and SIDS, University of Milan, Via della Commenda, 19- 20122 Milan. Italy

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© Mecchia et al.; Licensee Bentham Open.

open-access license: This is an open access article licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted, non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the work is properly cited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Chairman, “Lino Rossi” Research Center, Milan University, Via della Commenda, 19, 20122 Milan, Italy; Tel: +39-02-50320800; Fax: +39-02-50320823; E-mail:


The atherogenic effect of cigarette smoking is already recognizable in coronary arteries of fetuses in the last gestational weeks. In this study we analyzed the atherogenic effect of mother’s and father’s smoking habit on coronary arteries and even on adnexa of 30 human fresh fetuses died from 32 to 41 gestational weeks. In 12 cases only the mothers of the victims were cigarette smokers, in 7 cases only the fathers were smokers, whereas in 11 cases nobody smoked.

We observed pre-atherosclerotic and initial atherosclerotic lesions of the adnexa in 21 cases, of which 11 cases had only mother smokers and 6 cases only father smokers. The atherogenic effect is statistically significant in both smoker groups, but stronger in maternal one. The atherosclerotic lesions found in umbilical and placental arteries are similar to those described in fetal coronary arteries: thickening of the arterial walls caused by proliferation and migration of the smooth muscle cells of the tunica media with loss of polarity and infiltration of the subendothelial connective tissue.

Key Words: Umbilical cord, placenta, atherosclerosis, cigarette smoking..