Ageing or calcification of the placenta (2023)

In this article

  • What does an 'ageing placenta' or 'calcification of the placenta' mean?
  • How is the calcification or age of the placenta measured?
  • How will an ageing or calcified placenta affect my delivery?
  • Is it harmful to my baby if my placenta calcifies or ages too soon?
  • Is there anything I can do to prevent early calcification or ageing of the placenta?


Tips for a healthy pregnancy

11 easy steps to a healthy pregnancy.

What does an 'ageing placenta' or 'calcification of the placenta' mean?

Placental calcification is the medical term for some of the changes that happen to the placenta, as pregnancy progresses.

Many researchers regard placental calcification as a normal ageing process, rather than a change related to a disease or ailment.

The placenta is usually described as going through four grades, from 0 (most immature) to III (most mature).

All placentas start at grade zero in early pregnancy. Changes can be seen from 12 weeks onwards. As pregnancy progresses, the placenta matures and calcifies.

(Video) I have calcification on my placenta. How will this affect my baby?

It is classified into the following grades at different stages in pregnancy, at approximately the following times:

  • Grade 0. Before 18 weeks of pregnancy.
  • Grade I. Around 18 to 29 weeks of pregnancy.
  • Grade II. Around 30 to 38 weeks of pregnancy.
  • Grade III. Around 39 weeks of pregnancy. It is usually not seen before 38 weeks. A grade III placenta is known as a severely calcified placenta. At this stage, a formation of indentations or ring-like structures can be seen within the placenta.

How is the calcification or age of the placenta measured?

There is some uncertainty about whether changes in the placenta can be measured accurately as it can be difficult to grade the placenta objectively.

A lot depends on the interpretation of the ultrasound images by the ultrasound doctor. Some differences may also arise as it depends on how a doctor interprets the result.

How will an ageing or calcified placenta affect my delivery?

The effect of an ageing placenta on labour and delivery is difficult to say. Experts seem to have different opinions on the significance of a calcified placenta on delivery due to the lack of conclusive evidence.

Some placental changes during late pregnancy are considered a normal part of pregnancy and not thought to be of concern. However, in cases where changes occur earlier than expected, there is some disagreement regarding their significance.

Some risks that are known to be associated with placental calcification at each stage of pregnancy are listed below.

Changes between 28 and 36 weeks
One study suggests that women in high-risk pregnancies who develop a calcified placenta between 28 and 34 weeks need closer monitoring. Some examples of high-risk pregnancies include pregnancies complicated by placenta praevia, diabetes, high blood pressure or severe anaemia.

Calcification of placenta before 32 weeks of pregnancy is called an "early preterm placental calcification". It is known to be associated with a higher risk of pregnancy and birth complications, such as

  • heavy bleeding after birth or postpartum haemorrhage
  • placental abruption
  • premature baby
  • having a baby with a low Apgar score
  • stillbirth

Changes from 36 weeks
One study has suggested that having a grade III placenta at 36 weeks is associated with an increased risk of pregnancy-related high blood pressure and having a low-birth-weight baby.

(Video) Premature Ageing of Placenta, How to see, Causes and effects of Pregnancy

Hence, ultrasound scans that show placental calcification at 36 weeks may help in identifying high-risk pregnancies.

Changes from 37 to 42 weeks
A grade III calcified placenta from 37 weeks onwards is found in about 20 to 40 per cent of normal pregnancies. However, it is thought to of little clinical significance.

The effects of calcified placenta probably need to be evaluated on a case-to-case basis, depending on:

  • how early the changes are seen
  • how severe they are
  • whether it is a high-risk pregnancy or not
  • your doctor's opinion

Is it harmful to my baby if my placenta calcifies or ages too soon?

Preterm calcification of the placenta can be harmful to a baby in the womb, but it also depends on the grade and stage of pregnancy.

Some studies suggest that placental calcification before 32 weeks of pregnancy can result in low birth weight babies, babies with a low Apgar score and even stillbirth.

Some studies have shown that having a grade II placenta between 30 and 34 weeks can predict a low birth weight baby. But this is only among women who smoke during pregnancy.

Is there anything I can do to prevent early calcification or ageing of the placenta?

The exact causes of an ageing placenta are still not very clear, so it is difficult to say what would prevent it. However, some research suggests that placental calcification is more likely in:

  • younger women
  • first-time pregnancies
  • women who smoke during their pregnancy

Your doctor will be monitoring your health throughout your pregnancy. So, make sure you don’t miss any antenatal check-ups and your ultrasound scan appointments.

यह लेख हिंदी में पढ़ें!

(Video) Placenta Grading || Placenta Maturity

Read more on:

  • Scans to check the position of the placenta
  • Low amniotic fluid (oligohydramnios)
  • Dizziness in pregnancy


Abramowicz JS, Sheiner E. 2007. In utero imaging of the placenta: Importance for diseases of pregnancy. Placenta. 21(Suppl A):S14–S22.

Bricker L, Neilson JP, Dowswell T. Routine ultrasound in late pregnancy (after 24 weeks' gestation). Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2008, Issue 4. Art. No.: CD001451. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD001451.pub3.

Chen KH, Chen LR, Lee YH. 2012. The role of preterm placental calcification in high-risk pregnancy as a predictor of poor uteroplacental blood flow and adverse pregnancy outcome. Ultrasound Med Biol. 38(6):1011-8. Online first 3 Apr.

Grannum PA, Berkowitz RL, Hobbins JC. 1979. The ultrasonic changes in the maturing placenta and their relation to fetal pulmonary maturity. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. 133:915–22.

Hill LM. Breckle R. Ragozzino MW. Wolfgram KR. O'Brien PC. Grade 3 placentation: incidence and neonatal outcome. Obstetrics & Gynecology. 61(6):728-32, 1983 Jun. Abstract. Full text available to Fellows, Members and Trainees.

Hills D. Irwin GA. Tuck S. 1984. Distribution of placental grade in high-risk gravidas. AJR. American Journal of Roentgenology. 143(5):1011-3.

Kazzi GM, Gross TL, et al. 1984. The relationship of placental grade, fetal lung maturity, and neonatal outcome in normal and complicated pregnancies. Am J Obstet Gynecol.;148(1):54-8

(Video) I have placenta calcification. My baby may be premature. Do I get a C-section or induction?

McKenna D, Tharmaratnam S, Mahsud S, 2005. Ultrasonic evidence of placental calcification at 36 weeks' gestation: maternal and fetal outcomes. Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand. 84(1):7-10.

Miller JM Jr, Brown HL, Kissling GA, Gabert HA. The relationship of placental grade to fetal size and growth at term. Am J Perinatol 1988; 5: 19–21.

Moran M, Ryan J, Higgins M, et al. 2011. Poor agreement between operators on grading of the placenta. J Obstet Gynaecol. 31(1):24-8.

Proud J, Grant AM. 1987. Third trimester placental grading by ultrasonography as a test of fetal wellbeing. BMJ 294: 1641–4.

Smith R, Maiti K, Aitken RJ. 2013. Unexplained antepartum stillbirth: a consequence of placental aging? Placenta. 34(4):310-3. Online first 26 Feb.

Szymanowski K, Chmaj-Wierzchowska K, Florek E,et al. 2007. Does calcification of placenta reveal only maternal cigarette smoking? Przegl Lek. 2007;64(10):879-81.

Walker MG, Hindmarsh PC, Geary M, et al. 2010. Sonographic Maturation of the Placenta at 30 to 34 Weeks Is Not Associated With Second Trimester Markers of Placental Insufficiency in Low-risk Pregnancies. J Obstet Gynaecol. 32(12):1134.– 39.

Yin TT, Loughna P, Ong SS, et al. 2009. No correlation between ultrasound placental grading at 31-34 weeks of gestation and a surrogate estimate of organ function at term obtained by stereological analysis. Placenta. 30(8):726-30. Online first 12 Jun.

Show referencesHide references

(Video) Grade iii Placental Calcifications | 38 weeks of Gestation


1. Placental Abruption
(High Impact)
2. Which grade placenta is good for delivery?
3. Ultrasound Video showing calcified area in the uterus of a patient aged 58 years.
(Saeed Ahmad)
4. I'm 36 weeks and found out I have a placenta previa. Will I have to get a C-section?
5. My Positive Labor & Delivery Story || Placenta calcification, IUGR, Unplanned Delivery
6. Calcification of Placenta
(Dr OBG)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Msgr. Refugio Daniel

Last Updated: 04/06/2023

Views: 5767

Rating: 4.3 / 5 (54 voted)

Reviews: 93% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Msgr. Refugio Daniel

Birthday: 1999-09-15

Address: 8416 Beatty Center, Derekfort, VA 72092-0500

Phone: +6838967160603

Job: Mining Executive

Hobby: Woodworking, Knitting, Fishing, Coffee roasting, Kayaking, Horseback riding, Kite flying

Introduction: My name is Msgr. Refugio Daniel, I am a fine, precious, encouraging, calm, glamorous, vivacious, friendly person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.