The maternal-fetal environment, controlled and modulated by the placenta, plays a critical role in the development and well-being of the fetus, with long-term impact through programming of lifelong health. The fetal cardiovascular system and placenta emerge at the same time embryologically, and thus placental form and function are altered in the presence of congenital heart disease (CHD). In this review, we report on what is known about the placenta from a structural and functional perspective when there is CHD. We describe the various unique pathologic findings as well as the diagnostic imaging tools used to characterize placental function in utero. With growing interest in the placenta, a standardized approach to characterizing placental pathology has emerged. Furthermore, application of ultrasonography techniques and magnetic resonance imaging now allow for insights into placental blood flow and functionality in vivo. An improved understanding of the intriguing relationship between the placenta and the fetal cardiovascular system will provide opportunities to develop novel ways to optimize outcomes. Once better understood, therapeutic modulation of placental function offered during the vulnerable period of fetal plasticity may be one of the most impactful ways to alter the course of CHD and its complications.

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