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Am J Obstet Gynecol. 1977 May 1;128(1):22-31.

Fetal malnutrition: an appraisal of correlated factors.


Fetal malnutrition has emerged as a significant health problem over the past decade. Present evidence suggests that maternal environment plays the major etiologic role in fetal malnutrition. The association of fetal malnutrition in mothers with chronic hypertension is well known, but fetal malnutrition is associated with maternal hypertension in less than 25 per cent of cases. Among a group of 182 pregnant women studied at midpregnancy for blood levels of vitamins, trace metals, proteins, amino acids, and parameters of maternal leukocyte energy metabolism, it was found that the concentration of 10 amino acids, alpha-1-globulin, zinc, and total carotenes had a statistically significant relationship to fetal growth. Similarly significant correlations were found for maternal leukocyte adenosine disphosphate, phosphofructokinase activity, ribonucleic acid (RNA) synthesis, and cell size. Maternal cigarette smoking was correlated with reduced fetal growth. Analysis showed that there was a significant reduction in leukocyte RNA synthesis and phosphokinase activity and in the plasma levels of 14 amino acids, and carotene in smoking mothers. This information lends support to the hypothesis that factors which affect the growth of fetal cells also will affect maternal leukocytes in a definable way.

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