Fetal Infections

  • Reinhard L. Friede


A discussion of the pathology of fetal infections must be cognizant of the fact that infection of the fetus may cause two rather different types of lesions: First, there may be the inflammatory and destructive changes characteristic of infectious processes in general. Secondly, the tissue damage resulting from the infection may derange the subsequent development of the organ, leaving malformations in its wake. These two components may coexist or overlap. The first type of lesion is readily identified during the active phase of the disease when inflammatory changes are present, and when the causative organism may be seen in the tissue, or recovered from it. Diagnostic difficulties become greater once the active phase of the inflammation has subsided; the residual tissue damage may be morphologically similar to that caused by noninfectious processes damaging the brain at the same age. The periventricular tissue, for example, is rather prone to become involved from infections spreading through the cerebral ventricles, but it is also a site of predilection for various asphyctic lesions (Chapter 4; Differential Diagnosis); further, lesions of different etiologies may cause similar secondary tissue reactions, e.g., mineralization. The etiologic classification of such residual tissue damage may be difficult, e.g., for rubella infection of the fetus.


Rubella Virus Obstructive Hydrocephalus Maternal Infection Congenital Toxoplasmosis Congenital Rubella Syndrome 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Wien 1975

Authors and Affiliations

  • Reinhard L. Friede
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Case Western Reserve UniversityClevelandUSA
  2. 2.University of ZurichSwitzerland

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