Newborn Acid-Base Status and Umbilical Cord Morphology

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Abstract

Objective

To assess the relation between umbilical cord morphology and intrapartum fetal status and umbilical cord blood gases at birth.

Methods

In a prospective study of 134 consecutive newborns and their umbilical cords, relations were investigated between umbilical cord morphologic characteristics (umbilical cord length, number of vascular coils, coiling index, and vessel length index) and intrapartum fetal heart rate (FHR) decelerations, color of amniotic fluid, operative delivery for suspected fetal acidosis, umbilical vessel blood gases, and acid-base status.

Results

Statistically significant linear correlations were found between umbilical venous pH and the umbilical cord length (r = 0.30; 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.13, 0.46; P < .001), number of vascular coils (r = 0.27; 95% CI 0.10, 0.43; P = .001), coiling index (r = 0.15; 95% CI 0, 0.33; P = .05), and vessel length index (r = 0.30; 95% CI 0.13, 0.46; P < .001). Statistically significant negative linear correlations were found between the umbilical venous partial pressure of carbon dioxide (PCO2) and cord length (r = −0.34, 95% CI −0.49, −0.17; P < .001), number of vascular coils (r = −0.30, 95% CI −0.46, −0.13; P < .001), coiling index (r = −0.17, 95% CI −0.34, 0; P = .03), and vessel length index (r = −0.34, 95% CI −0.49, −0.17; P < .001). The umbilical artery pH was related to vessel length index and to the number of umbilical vascular coils (r = 0.17, 95% CI 0.03, 0.36; P = .04 and r = 0.17, 95% CI 0.02, 0.35; P = .047, respectively). No relation was found between umbilical cord indices and intrapartum FHR decelerations, meconium staining of the amniotic fluid, or mode of delivery. Placental weight also correlated with umbilical cord length and vessel length index (95% CI 0.15, 0.46; P < .001 and 95% CI 0.05, 0.38; P = .01, respectively), but not with the number of umbilical cord coils or the coiling index.

Conclusion

Umbilical venous pH and PCO2 and umbilical artery pH are related to umbilical cord morphology. Associated variations in placental morphology or placental blood flow affecting maternal-fetal gas exchange may explain these findings.

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