Directors Seminar: The placenta as a witness to stillbirth

The loss of a baby due to stillbirth remains a sad reality for many families and can take a serious toll on the family’s health and wellbeing.  In 2015 it was estimated that 2·6 million babies were stillborn.  90% of injuries to a baby happen before labour and hospital admission, are either utero-placental or placenta-fetal with the common element being the placenta. In 30% to 64% of cases an indication for the cause of the adverse outcome for a baby can be found in the placenta.  A detailed placental pathological examination is thus one critical component of stillbirth evaluation given the placenta’s essential role in maintaining the pregnancy. Jane will discuss her experiences as a perinatal pathologist and some advances in our understanding of placenta related causes of stillbirth.

Jane Dahlstrom is the Interim Dean of the College of Health and Medicine at the Australian National University (ANU) and also Professor of Pathology at ANU Medical School. She is a Senior Staff Specialist at ACT Pathology where she is responsible for the perinatal service. She is current president of the International Pediatric Pathology Association (IPPA). Jane is a member of the International Stillbirth Alliance Scientific Committee involved in facilitating best practice and research into stillbirth globally. She enjoys teaching and is an active researcher with particular interests in perinatal and placental pathology.