Fetal Liver-Sparing Cardiovascular Adaptations Linked to Mother’s Slimness and Diet
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Fetal adaptations to impaired maternoplacental nutrient supply include altered regional blood flow. Whether such responses operate within the normal range of maternal body composition or diet is unknown, but any change in fetal liver perfusion could alter hepatic development, with long-term consequences for the risk of cardiovascular and metabolic disease. In 381 low-risk pregnancies, we found that the fetuses of slimmer mothers with lower body fat stores and those eating an unbalanced diet had greater liver blood flow and shunted less blood away from the liver through the ductus venosus at 36 weeks gestation. Consequences of such “liver-sparing” may underlie the increased cardiovascular risk of people whose mothers were slimmer and had lower body fat stores in pregnancy.