Objective: To evaluate, by 3rd trimester ultrasound examination, fetal adipose tissue to predict fetal growth and birthweight.
Patients and methods: Thirteen pregnant women (group 1) with uncomplicated pregnancy and 9 diabetic women (group 2) have been enrolled. We have examined adipose tissue at the cross sectional level of arm, thigh and abdomen and at the longitudinal sectional level of shoulder. During 3rd trimester measurements were taken at the beginning (28-32 gestational weeks), at the middle (34-38 gestational weeks) and at term (39-41 gestational weeks). At birth we recorded the skinfolds of arm, thigh and shoulder and the neonatal weight. Subsequently, by regression analyses ultrasound parameters of physiological pregnancies were correlated to skinfolds measurements at birth, while abdomen thickness was compared to birthweight. In addition, ultrasound markers of the physiological pregnancies were compared to those of diabetic pregnancies by the t-test.
Results: Fetal limbs examination had not a prognostic value at any gestational week. Shoulder ultrasound measurements appeared well correlated to the shoulder skinfold after birth since the 34th week. Diabetic mothers' fetuses presented much more adipose tissue than control cases, particularly of arm and thigh at 28-32 weeks, of shoulder at 34-38 weeks and in all the markers at term pregnancy.
Conclusion: Ultrasound examination of fetal adipose tissue seems to have a predictive value for fetal growth both in physiological and diabetic pregnancy.