Fetal subcutaneous tissue thickness (SCTT) in healthy and gestational diabetic pregnancies




To determine reference values of fetal subcutaneous tissue thickness (SCTT) throughout gestation in a healthy population and to compare them with those from a population of pregnant women with gestational diabetes under standard therapy.


Three hundred and three women recruited from a high-risk pregnancy clinic were classified as being healthy (n = 218) or as having gestational diabetes (n = 85) on the basis of a negative or positive oral glucose tolerance test, respectively. They were enrolled into the cross-sectional study at 20 weeks' gestation. Ultrasound examinations were performed approximately every 3 weeks until delivery at term. The mid-arm fat mass and lean mass (MAFM, MALM), the mid-thigh fat mass and lean mass (MTFM, MTLM), the abdominal fat mass (AFM) and the subscapular fat mass (SSFM) were evaluated. Time-specific reference ranges were constructed from the 218 healthy women and a conventional Student's t-test was performed to compare SCTT values between the two study groups throughout gestation.


Normal ranges, including 5th, 50th and 95th centiles of the distribution, were generated for each SCTT parameter obtained in each of the two groups of women. Significant differences were found between the two study groups at 37–40 weeks' gestation for MTFM, at 20–22 and 26–28 weeks for MTLM, at 31–34 and 35–37 weeks for MAFM, at 26–28 and 38–40 weeks for SSFM, and at 39–40 weeks for AFM, the mean residual values always being greater in gestational diabetic women than they were in the group of healthy pregnant women.


We provide gestational age-specific reference values for fetal SCTT. Fetal fat mass values, particularly in late gestation, are greater in women with gestational diabetes compared with healthy women. The reference values may have a role in assessing the influence of maternal metabolic control on fetal state. Copyright © 2003 ISUOG. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.