Bedside diagnosis of two major clinical phenotypes of hypertensive disorders of pregnancy

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Abstract

Objective

To investigate the hypothesis that fetal abdominal circumference (AC) and uterine artery (UtA) Doppler pulsatility index (PI) could be used to select two homogeneous subgroups of women affected by hypertensive disorders of pregnancy (HDP), characterized by the coexistence of maternal hypertension with and without intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR).

Methods

This was a multicenter retrospective study of cases affected by HDP in whom fetal AC and UtA-PI had been measured at admission to fetomaternal medicine units. Maternal characteristics, pregnancy complications and outcome were recorded. These data allowed us to model the characteristics of fetal growth in cases affected by HDP, and to design composite indicators of risk factors for maternal metabolic syndrome and of severity for maternal functional organ damage.

Results

Measurements of fetal AC and UtA-PI allowed us to define a group of HDP cases with appropriate-for-gestational-age (AGA) fetuses (HDP-AGA), diagnosed by normal fetal AC and UtA-PI (n = 205), and a group of HDP cases with IUGR fetuses (HDP-IUGR), diagnosed by fetal AC < 5th centile and UtA-PI > 95th centile (n = 124). Curves fitted to the birth weights of these two groups were significantly different, but gestational age at admission for HDP (< 34 or ≥ 34 weeks) did not show an independent association with birth weight. When birth weight was expressed as a Z-score with respect to local reference charts, the average corresponded to the 6th and 48th centiles, respectively. The occurrence of HDP-AGA (as compared with HDP-IUGR) was significantly associated with risk factors for maternal metabolic syndrome (odds ratio, 2.79 (95% CI, 1.57–4.97)), independent of gestational age. The same risk factors yielded non-significant odds ratios for the development of late-onset (vs early-onset) HDP. Women with HDP-IUGR had worse clinical outcomes.

Conclusions

This study provides new information based on simple prenatal bedside examinations that might help to differentiate HDP-IUGR from HDP-AGA fetuses. These groups are associated with different fetal growth patterns and risk factors, independent of gestational age at onset of the disease.

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