Objective: Our purpose was to investigate the relationship between fetal plasma erythropoietin concentration and measures of short-term and long-term glycemic control and fetal oxygenation in pregnancies complicated by maternal diabetes mellitus.
Study design: A cross-sectional study was performed at The Harris Birthright Research Centre for Fetal Medicine, London. Cordocentesis was performed in 31 diabetic pregnancies for the measurement of umbilical venous blood pH, PO2, PCO2, lactate and glucose concentration, erythroblast count, hemoglobin, and plasma erythropoietin concentrations.
Results: The mean pH was significantly lower and the PCO2, lactate, erythropoietin, hemoglobin, and erythroblast counts were significantly higher than the appropriate normal mean for gestation. There were significant associations between (1) fetal erythropoietin and erythroblast count, (2) fetal erythroblast count and hemoglobin, (3) fetal hemoglobin and maternal glycosylated hemoglobin, and (4) maternal glucose and fetal glucose, pH, and lactate.
Conclusions: We postulate that maternal hyperglycemia causes fetal hyperglycemia and acidemia. Increased erythropoietin may be caused by tissue hypoxia or hyperinsulinemia. The increase in fetal hemoglobin may be the consequence of increased erythropoiesis, mediated by either erythropoietin or hyperinsulinemia.