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Little Effect of Gestation at 3,100 m on Fetal Fat Accretion or the Fetal Circulation

Authors

  • Joel Schwartz,

    1. Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, School of Medicine, University of Colorado Denver, Aurora, Colorado
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  • Darleen Cioffi-Ragan,

    1. Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, School of Medicine, University of Colorado Denver, Aurora, Colorado
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  • Megan J. Wilson,

    1. Altitude Research Center, Department of Emergency Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Colorado Denver, Aurora, Colorado
    2. Department of Anthropology, University of Colorado Denver, Aurora, Colorado
    3. Department of Health and Behavioral Science, University of Colorado Denver, Aurora, Colorado
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  • Colleen G. Julian,

    1. Altitude Research Center, Department of Emergency Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Colorado Denver, Aurora, Colorado
    2. Department of Anthropology, University of Colorado Denver, Aurora, Colorado
    3. Department of Health and Behavioral Science, University of Colorado Denver, Aurora, Colorado
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  • Brenda Beatty,

    1. Department of Medicine, University of Colorado Denver, Aurora, Colorado
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  • Lorna G. Moore,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, School of Medicine, University of Colorado Denver, Aurora, Colorado
    2. Altitude Research Center, Department of Emergency Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Colorado Denver, Aurora, Colorado
    3. Department of Anthropology, University of Colorado Denver, Aurora, Colorado
    4. Department of Health and Behavioral Science, University of Colorado Denver, Aurora, Colorado
    5. Department of Medicine, University of Colorado Denver, Aurora, Colorado
    • Correspondence to: Lorna G. Moore, PhD, Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, 12631 E 17th Avenue, Mailstop 8613, 3rd Floor Research Complex 2, University of Colorado Denver, Aurora, CO 80045. E-mail: Lorna.Moore@ucdenver.edu

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  • Henry L. Galan

    1. Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, School of Medicine, University of Colorado Denver, Aurora, Colorado
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Abstract

Objective

While chronic hypoxia has been recognized as the principal causative factor for decreasing birth weight at high altitude, unknown is whether fetal fat accretion and vascular function are affected.

Methods

Colorado women with normal singleton pregnancies (18 Denver residents, 1,600 m; 24 Leadville residents, 3,100 m) were studied longitudinally from 20 to 36 weeks gestation. Fetal biometry was used to obtain axial images for assessing mid-upper arm and mid-thigh subcutaneous tissue mass (MUA and MUL SQ) and Doppler waveform analysis conducted to measure indices of vascular function in the fetal umbilical arteries (UmbA), umbilical vein (UmbV), middle cerebral artery (MCA), and ductus venosus (DV). SAS PROC MIXED was used to compare altitudes with P < 0.05 considered significant and trends present when 0.05 < P < 0.10.

Results

The 3,100 m vs. 1,600 m babies weighed less at birth. Third trimester fetal biometry, MUA SQ and MUL SQ were somewhat lower, but neither the biometry nor the SQ altitudinal differences attained statistical significance. Greater prepregnant maternal BMI tended to decrease MUA SQ (P = 0.07) and increase MUL SQ (P = 0.07). UmbA S/D ratios decreased and UmbV flow increased with advancing gestation (both P < 0.001). Altitude did not affect the UmbA or MCA systolic/diastolic ratios (S/D), MCA peak-systolic velocity, UmbV flow, or the DV systolic/atrial flow ratio.

Conclusion

The hypoxia of residence at high compared to moderate altitude lowered birth weight but did not significantly alter MUA or mid-thigh fetal subcutaneous tissue mass or Doppler indices of vascular function. Am. J. Hum. Biol. 25:544–549, 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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