A fetal cardiovascular score to predict infant hypertension and arterial remodeling in intrauterine growth restriction

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Intrauterine growth restricted (IUGR) fetuses experience cardiovascular remodeling that persists into infancy and has been related to cardiovascular outcomes in adulthood. Hypertension in infancy has been demonstrated to be a strong risk factor for later cardiovascular disease. Close monitoring together with dietary interventions have shown to improve cardiovascular health in hypertensive children; however, not all IUGR infants show increased blood pressure. We evaluated the potential of fetal echocardiography for predicting hypertension and arterial remodeling in 6-month-old IUGR infants.


One hundred consecutive IUGR and 100 control fetuses were observed into infancy. Fetal assessment included perinatal Doppler imaging, cardiac morphometry, ejection fraction, cardiac output, isovolumic relaxation time (IVRT), tricuspid annular-plane systolic excursion (TAPSE), and tissue Doppler imaging. Infant hypertension and arterial remodeling were defined as mean blood pressure of >95th percentile together with aortic intima-media thickness of >75th percentile at 6 months of age. Odds ratio were obtained for fetal parameters that were associated with infant outcomes.


Fetal TAPSE, right sphericity index, IVRT, and cerebroplacental ratio were the strongest predictors for postnatal vascular remodeling. A cardiovascular risk score that was based on fetal TAPSE, cerebroplacental ratio, right sphericity index, and IVRT was highly predictive of infant hypertension and arterial remodeling (area under the curve, 0.87; 95% confidence interval, 0.79–0.93; P < .001).


Fetal echocardiographic parameters identify a high-risk group within the IUGR fetuses who could be targeted for early screening of blood pressure and other cardiovascular risk factors and for promoting healthy diet and physical exercise.

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