Intrauterine growth restriction: Impact on cardiovascular development and function throughout infancy

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Intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) refers to the situation where a fetus does not grow according to its genetic growth potential. One of the main causes of IUGR is uteroplacental vascular insufficiency. Under these circumstances of chronic oxygen and nutrient deprivation, the growth-restricted fetus often displays typical circulatory changes, which in part represent adaptations to the suboptimal intrauterine environment. These fetal adaptations aim to preserve oxygen and nutrient supply to vital organs such as the brain, the heart, and the adrenals. These prenatal circulatory adaptations are thought to lead to an altered development of the cardiovascular system and "program" the fetus for life long cardiovascular morbidities. In this review, we discuss the alterations to cardiovascular structure, function, and control that have been observed in growth-restricted fetuses, neonates, and infants following uteroplacental vascular insufficiency. We also discuss the current knowledge on early life surveillance and interventions to prevent progression into chronic disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)821-830
Number of pages10
JournalPediatric Research
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2016

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