Ductus arteriosus flow velocity modulation by fetal breathing movements as a measure of fetal lung development

American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology
J van EyckJ W Wladimiroff

Abstract

A test is needed that would accurately predict favorable neonatal lung performance in the presence of prolonged severe oligohydramnios caused by ruptured membranes so that optimal obstetric care can be provided. We propose such a test that is based on the degree of modulation of fetal ductal blood flow velocity by fetal breathing movements after maternal glucose loading. In a prospective cross-sectional study of 49 normal pregnancies (50 fetuses) between 25 and 38 weeks an exponential increase in breathing-related ductal blood flow velocity modulation was observed with advancing gestational age, reflecting the developing pulmonary vascular bed. Fetal ductal flow velocity waveforms were also recorded in 13 cases of prolonged severe oligohydramnios after ruptured membranes before 28 weeks' gestation. Normal ductal blood flow velocity modulation values were associated with normal neonatal lung performance, whereas reduced ductal blood flow velocity modulation values were associated with pulmonary hypoplasia. Fetal breathing-related ductal flow velocity modulation appears to be a promising predictor of neonatal lung performance.

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