Erythropoietin seems to play an important role in the regulation of fetal hypoxemia. The present prospective study was designed to determine if changes in erythropoietin levels can be found in fetuses with severe early-onset growth restriction and hemodynamic compromise.Methods and results:
Erythropoietin, hemoglobin, hematocrit, platelet counts, normoblasts, lacate, arterial and venous blood gasses in the umbilical cord were determined in 42 fetuses with fetal growth restriction (IUGR) with absent (zero-flow) and 26 IUGR fetuses with retrograde end-diastolic flow (reverse-flow) in the umbilical artery. Color Doppler measurements were performed on the middle cerebral artery (PI) and ductus venosus [(S-a)/D and (S-a)/Vmean]. Erythropoietin concentrations were significantly lower in the zero-flow group (median: 128.0 mU/mL; range: 60.3-213 mU/mL) compared with the reverse-flow group (median: 202.5 mU/mL; range: 166-1182 mU/mL). Significant differences in median lactate concentrations were observed between the zero-flow group: 3.28 mmol/L (range; 2.3-4.7 mmol/L), and reverse-flow group: 5.6 mmol/L (range: 3.8-7.5 mmol/L). Fetuses with reverse-flow had significantly lower median platelet counts than fetuses with zero-flow (74 vs. 155/μL) and significantly lower normoblast counts (63 vs. 342/100 WBC).Conclusions:
Fetuses with severe IUGR due to chronic placental insufficiency and absent or reversed flow in the umbilical artery show increased erythropoietin levels.