Obtaining growth and physiologic data in the postnatal laboratory animal is common. However, monitoring growth in utero is far more difficult, with little data available except upon termination of pregnancy. High-resolution ultrasound was used to monitor growth, morphology, and fetal well-being in normotensive and hypertensive rabbits (21 fetuses) at day 16, 20, and 26 of the 32day gestational period. Set protocols, comparable to those routinely assessed in humans, were devised and followed for each examination. Birth weight was greater in offspring of hypertensive as compared to normotensive mothers (p<0.001); however, litter size was reduced. The greater birth weight was reflected in growth parameters measured throughout gestation indicating the predictive value of ultrasound. High-resolution ultrasound was a reliable and sensitive method for biometric and morphologic assessment of the fetal rabbit, demonstrating that growth trajectory of offspring of hypertensive mothers may be altered early in gestation.
- fetal programming
- hypertension in pregnancy