Cardiovascular fetal-to-neonatal transition: an in silico model

Pediatr Res. 2022 Jan;91(1):116-128. doi: 10.1038/s41390-021-01401-0. Epub 2021 Mar 17.


Background: Previous models describing the fetal-to-neonatal transition often lack oxygen saturation levels, homeostatic control mechanisms, phasic hemodynamic signals, or describe the heart with a time-varying elastance model.

Methods: We incorporated these elements in the adapted CircAdapt model with the one-fiber model for myocardial contraction, to simulate the hemodynamics of the healthy term human fetal circulation and its transition during the first 24 h after birth. The fetal-to-neonatal model was controlled by a time- and event-based script of changes occurring at birth, such as lung aeration and umbilical cord clamping. Model parameters were based on and validated with human and animal data.

Results: The fetal circulation showed low pulmonary blood flow, right ventricular dominance, and inverted mitral and tricuspid flow velocity patterns, as well as high mean ductus venosus flow velocity. The neonatal circulation showed oxygen saturation levels to gradually increase to 98% in the first 15 min after birth as well as temporary left ventricular volume overload.

Conclusions: Hemodynamics of the term fetus and 24-h-old neonate, as well as the events occurring directly after birth and the transition during the first 24 h after birth, were realistically represented, allowing the model to be used for educational purposes and future research.

Impact: With the addition of oxygen saturation levels, homeostatic pressure-flow control mechanisms, and the one-fiber model for myocardial contraction, a new closed-loop cardiovascular model was constructed to give more insight into the healthy term human fetal circulation and its cardiovascular transition during the first 24 h after birth. Extensive validation confirmed that the hemodynamics of the term fetus and the fetal-to-neonatal transition were realistically represented with the model. This well-validated and versatile model can serve as an education as well as a research platform for in silico investigation of fetal-to-neonatal hemodynamic changes under a wide range of physiological and pathophysiological conditions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cardiovascular System / embryology*
  • Cardiovascular System / growth & development
  • Computer Simulation
  • Fetus / blood supply
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Models, Cardiovascular*