The fetal cardiovascular response to antenatal steroids in severe early-onset intrauterine growth restriction
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OBJECTIVE: Our aim was to study the hemodynamic effects of betamethasone on fetuses with intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) with absent or reversed end-diastolic (ARED) umbilical artery flow. STUDY DESIGN: Color/pulsed Doppler waveforms were obtained before and after intramuscular injections of betamethasone in 19 consecutive fetuses with IUGR/ARED and 6 control fetuses. Peak velocities and pulsatility index (PI) values were obtained from the umbilical (UA) and middle cerebral (MCA) arteries and intrahepatic umbilical vein (UV). RESULTS: Ten ARED fetuses developed transient positive umbilical end-diastolic flow after steroids, whereas nine fetuses showed persistent ARED. The persistent ARED subgroup demonstrated increased UA and UV peak velocities after steroids, which may indicate fetal hypertension. Fetal death (n=2) and severe acidosis (n=2) were confined to the subgroup with persistent ARED. CONCLUSION: Preterm IUGR/ARED fetuses exhibit divergent cardiovascular responses to prenatal steroids. Intensive Doppler-based fetal monitoring may identify a subset of fetuses prone to decompensation after maternal steroid administration.
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