Growth hormone, insulin-like growth factor I, insulin and C-peptide during human fetal life: in-utero study

Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 1991 Mar;34(3):187-90. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2265.1991.tb00292.x.


Serum growth hormone (GH), insulin-like growth factor (IGF-I), insulin and C-peptide were measured by RIA in fetal blood collected in utero by umbilical cord puncture performed for a variety of indications. Eighty-four fetuses were aged 19-25 weeks and 14 were 26-37 weeks. IGF-I values were lower than the sensitivity of the method. The range for GH was 3-197 micrograms/l (GH-micrograms/l x 2 = mU/l), for insulin 14.3-117 pmol/l, for C-peptide 66.2-827.5 pmol/l. GH significantly increased from week 19 to 25; insulin and C-peptide levels increased from week 19 to 37. GH levels at 19-25 weeks were significantly higher in fetuses with femoral length less than the 5th compared with those with femoral length greater than the 95th centile for that age. GH and insulin levels did not correlate with weight at birth or with maternal hormone levels. These data provide evidence for a presence in living fetuses, from the 19th week, of high levels of GH and of insulin levels not very different from those in adults but these hormones do not seem to be directly responsible for fetal growth.

MeSH terms

  • Birth Weight / physiology
  • C-Peptide / blood*
  • Embryonic and Fetal Development / physiology
  • Female
  • Fetal Blood / metabolism*
  • Gestational Age
  • Growth Hormone / blood*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Insulin / blood*
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / analysis*
  • Pregnancy


  • C-Peptide
  • Insulin
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I
  • Growth Hormone