Postnatal intestinal disturbances in small-for-gestational-age premature infants after prenatal haemodynamic disturbances

Acta Paediatr. 2000 Mar;89(3):324-30.


Uteroplacental insufficiency leads to fetal growth retardation, which is a major cause of perinatal and postnatal morbidity. In the present study we investigated the relationship between prenatal haemodynamic disturbances and postnatal intestinal perfusion and gastrointestinal function in small-for-gestational-age neonates. Prospectively, 114 preterm neonates with a birthweight below 1500 g were assigned to one of two groups according to their prenatal Doppler sonographic measurements: neonates with or without prenatal haemodynamic disturbances. We defined a pathological fetal perfusion by a pulsatility index of uterine arteries, umbilical artery and fetal thoracic aorta above the 90th percentile and by a pulsatility index of middle cerebral artery below the 10th percentile of a normal group. We compared the postnatal respiratory and intestinal adaptation in both groups as well as the blood flow velocity waveforms of the superior mesenteric artery in all neonates. Postnatally, all 36 neonates with prenatal haemodynamic disturbances were classified to be small for gestational age. Thirty-one of these neonates developed abdominal problems with delayed meconium passage, abdominal distension, bilious vomiting and a delay in tolerating in enteral feeding within the first days of life. Six of them needed surgical intervention, but none of these infants revealed typical signs of necrotizing enterocolitis. In contrast, all neonates after normal prenatal perfusion were classified to be appropriate for gestational age. Only 19 of 78 neonates of this group showed signs of intestinal disturbances postnatally. By Doppler sonographic investigations we found significant lower systolic, mean and end-diastolic flow velocities and higher pulsatility indices of the superior mesenteric artery in neonates with prenatal haemodynamic disturbances. This may occur as a result of postnatal persistent redistribution of regional blood flow and results in gastrointestinal problems and may adversely affect gut motility.

MeSH terms

  • Blood Flow Velocity
  • Female
  • Fetus / physiology*
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / etiology*
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / physiopathology
  • Gastrointestinal Motility / physiology*
  • Gestational Age
  • Hemodynamics*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature
  • Infant, Small for Gestational Age*
  • Infant, Very Low Birth Weight
  • Mesenteric Artery, Superior / physiology
  • Middle Cerebral Artery / diagnostic imaging
  • Middle Cerebral Artery / physiology
  • Prospective Studies
  • Regional Blood Flow
  • Ultrasonography, Doppler / methods
  • Ultrasonography, Prenatal
  • Uterus / blood supply