Uterine blood flow--a determinant of fetal growth

Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol. 2003 Sep 22;110 Suppl 1:S55-61. doi: 10.1016/s0301-2115(03)00173-8.


An adequate increase of uterine blood flow throughout gestation is essential for uterine, placental and fetal growth. Maternal cardiovascular adaptation has to provide the uterine perfusion that is necessary to meet the requirements of the developing and growing fetus by providing transport of nutrients and oxygen to the placenta and the fetus. Thus, uterine blood flow is inextricably linked to fetal growth and survival. Reductions of uterine blood flow can occur under acute or chronic conditions or in a combination of both. Chronic reductions of uterine blood flow can be observed in pregnancy-induced hypertension (PIH), diabetes mellitus in pregnancy and intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR). Chronic restrictions in uterine blood flow will elicit a placental and fetal response in the form of growth adaptation to the reduced supply of oxygen and nutrients to the conceptus. If compensatory growth restriction reaches its limits intrauterine fetal distress can ensue. Among the great number of experimental models of intrauterine growth restriction, those involving a generalized reduction in the uteroplacental blood supply are of significance to questions relating to human pregnancy. Despite physiological differences, particularly with regard to maternal metabolism and placentation, the occlusion model in the pregnant sheep is suitable for investigating questions about fetal and placental growth.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood Flow Velocity
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Embryonic and Fetal Development*
  • Female
  • Fetal Growth Retardation / pathology
  • Fetal Growth Retardation / physiopathology
  • Fetal Weight
  • Gestational Age
  • Organ Size
  • Placenta / pathology
  • Pregnancy
  • Sheep
  • Uterus / blood supply*
  • Uterus / pathology