Growth-restricted neonates have worse outcomes after perinatal asphyxia, with more severe metabolic acidosis than appropriately grown neonates. The cardiovascular physiology associated with fetal growth restriction (FGR) may alter their response to asphyxia. However, research on asphyxia in FGR is limited. Here we compared cardiovascular hemodynamics in preterm FGR and control lambs during mild perinatal asphyxia. We induced FGR in one twin at 89 days gestation (term 148 days), while the other served as a control. At 126 days gestation, lambs were instrumented to allow arterial blood pressure and regional blood flow recording, and then mild perinatal asphyxia was induced by umbilical cord clamping, and resuscitation followed neonatal guidelines. FGR lambs maintained carotid blood flow (CBF) for 7 min, while control lambs rapidly decreased CBF (P < 0.05). Fewer growth-restricted lambs needed chest compressions for return of spontaneous circulation (ROSC) (17 vs. 83%, P = 0.02). The extent of blood pressure overshoot after ROSC was similar, but it took longer for MAP to return to baseline in FGR lambs (18.83 ± 0.00 vs. 47.67 ± 0.00 min, P = 0.003). Growth-restricted lambs had higher CBF after ROSC (P < 0.05) and displayed CBF overshoot, unlike control lambs (P < 0.03). In conclusion, preterm growth-restricted lambs show resilience during perinatal asphyxia based on prolonged CBF maintenance and reduced need for chest compressions during resuscitation. However, CBF overshoot after ROSC may increase the risk of cerebrovascular injury in FGR.NEW & NOTEWORTHY Preterm growth-restricted lambs maintain carotid blood flow for longer than control lambs during asphyxia and have a lower requirement for chest compressions than control lambs during resuscitation. Preterm growth-restricted, but not control, lambs displayed an overshoot in carotid blood flow following return of spontaneous circulation.
Keywords: cardiovascular physiology; fetal growth restriction; perinatal asphyxia; preterm birth; resuscitation.