Early and persistent reduction in umbilical vein blood flow in the growth-restricted fetus: a longitudinal study

Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2001 Oct;185(4):834-8. doi: 10.1067/mob.2001.117356.


Objective: We have previously shown, in a cross-sectional study, that the reduction in umbilical vein blood flow in intrauterine growth-restricted fetuses is due to reduced umbilical vein velocity. The purpose of this longitudinal study in intrauterine growth-restricted fetuses was to determine whether the umbilical vein velocity reduction, which, in turn, reduces blood flow, persists throughout gestation or represents a late event that precedes indicated delivery.

Study design: Twenty-one intrauterine growth-restricted fetuses with an abnormal umbilical artery velocimetry underwent serial sonographic and Doppler examinations from 23 to 36 weeks of gestation. Umbilical vein diameter and velocity were measured, and umbilical vein absolute (milliliters per minute) and weight-specific blood flow (milliliters per minute per kilogram) were calculated. Umbilical vein diameter, velocity, and blood flow were expressed per abdominal circumference. Intrauterine growth-restricted findings were compared to local reference data.

Results: Intrauterine growth-restricted fetuses showed persistent reductions in umbilical vein blood flow per abdominal circumference and weight-specific blood flow (milliliters per minute per kilogram) from the time of diagnosis of intrauterine growth-restriction. Umbilical vein velocity was reduced in the intrauterine growth-restricted fetuses, although umbilical vein diameter did not change.

Conclusion: Reduction of umbilical vein blood flow is an early finding in intrauterine growth-restricted fetuses, and it can persist for several weeks until delivery. This reduction in blood flow is due to reduced umbilical vein velocity.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blood Flow Velocity
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Fetal Blood
  • Fetal Growth Retardation / diagnostic imaging*
  • Fetal Growth Retardation / physiopathology*
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Outcome*
  • Probability
  • Prospective Studies
  • Reference Values
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Time Factors
  • Ultrasonography, Doppler
  • Ultrasonography, Prenatal