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Br J Obstet Gynaecol. 1991 Apr;98(4):378-84.

Fetal umbilical artery velocity waveforms and subsequent neonatal outcome.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Sydney, Westmead Hospital, Australia.


Flow velocity waveforms (FVWs) from the fetal umbilical artery were recorded from 2178 pregnant women over a 6-year period. All of them had an obstetric factor indicating increased risk of fetal compromise. A total of 6749 studies was recorded. The systolic diastolic (AB) ratio was measured and classified as normal (less than 95th centile), elevated (95-99th centile), high (greater than 99th centile) or extreme (absent diastolic flow). The results of these studies have been related to subsequent fetal and neonatal outcome. An abnormal umbilical artery FVW was associated with shorter gestation and infants with lower birthweight, shorter length and lower ponderal index. There was a highly significant association between an abnormal FVW and the birth of an infant small for gestational age. The significance of the association increased with the increased abnormality of the umbilical artery FVW and this was independent of gestational age. Preterm infants associated with high or extreme AB ratios spent twice as long in the neonatal nursery than those with normal AB ratios. Analysis of 794 pregnancies studies serially indicated that an abnormal FVW in which the AB ratio was increasing, in contrast to a decreasing AB ratio, predicted a poor outcome for both size at birth and duration of neonatal intensive care. We conclude that in high risk pregnancy Doppler umbilical artery FVW studies predict the most compromised fetuses in terms of growth retardation and requirements for neonatal intensive care.

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