Middle cerebral artery (MCA) and umbilical artery (UA) Doppler blood flow pulsatility indices (PIs) and MCA peak systolic velocity (PSV) are essential variables for clinically evaluating fetal well-being. Here we examined how a maternal meal influenced these Doppler blood flow velocity variables.
This prospective cohort study included 89 healthy Caucasian women with normal singleton pregnancies (median age, 32 years). Measurements were performed at gestational weeks 30 and 36, representing the start and near the end of the energy-depositing period. Measured variables included the MCA-PI, UA-PI, fetal heart rate (FHR) and MCA-PSV. The cerebroplacental ratio (CPR) was calculated as the ratio of MCA-PI to UA-PI. The first examination was performed in the fasting state at 08:30 a.m. Then participants ate a standard breakfast (approximate caloric intake, 400kcal), and the examination was repeated ~105 min after the meal.
Without adjustment for FHR, fetal MCA-PI decreased after the meal at week 30 (‒0.115; p = 0.012) and week 36 (‒0.255; p < 0.001). All PI values were negatively correlated with FHR. After adjustment for FHR, MCA-PI still decreased after the meal at week 30 (‒0.087; p = 0.044) and week 36 (‒0.194; p < 0.001). The difference between the two gestational weeks was non-significant (p = 0.075). UA-PI values did not significantly change at week 30 (p = 0.253) or week 36 (p = 0.920). CPR revealed significant postprandial decreases of −0.17 at week 30 (p = 0.006) and −0.22 at week 36 (p = 0.001). Compared to fasting values, MCA-PSV was significantly higher after food intake: +3.9 cm/s at week 30 (p < 0.001) and +5.9 cm/s at week 36 (p < 0.001).
In gestational weeks 30 and 36, we observed a postprandial influence that was apparently specific to fetal cerebral blood flow.
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