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Am J Physiol. 1991 Nov;261(5 Pt 2):R1294-9.

Is fetal acidosis in the human fetus maternogenic during labor? A reanalysis.

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Department of Physiology, Faculty of Medicine, Louis Pasteur University, Strasbourg, France.


The purpose of this study was to investigate whether maternogenic fetal acidosis can occur at the time of labor and delivery and to evaluate the extent of the possible maternal contribution to fetal acidosis. We have therefore determined fetal and maternal lactate concentrations and acid-base status under various conditions in 589 women at the end of gestation and during labor. The results show that metabolic acidosis develops in all fetuses because of increased production of lactic acidosis is primarily of fetal origin: 1) the umbilical arteriovenous lactate differences were positive and large in steady-state conditions as well as in depressed newborns; 2) the conditions that could produce a net transfer of lactate from the mother to the fetus, namely a positive maternofetal gradient of lactate and proton, were rarely observed; and 3) the correlation between fetal and maternal lactate levels was very weak, with regression coefficients decreasing from near steady-state conditions to acute stress conditions, indicating that the increase in lactate in the fetus and mother occurs independently. This correlation indicates also that increased maternal lactate production under conditions of labor and delivery can make a contribution by affecting the rate of net transfer from fetus to mother. This is possible in approximately 6% of the fetuses.

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