Infusion of exogenous insulin (54 ± 19 mU/kg/hr) to seven fetal lambs caused hyperinsulinism and arterial hypoxemia but not hypoglycemia. We measured the relationship between fetal oxygen delivery and oxygen use for a better understanding of the cause of the observed hypoxemia. Oxygen delivered to the fetus is the product of fetal umbilical venous oxygen content and umbilical blood flow. Both of these quantities decreased as fetal insulin concentration rose. The fall in umbilical blood flow was due to a change in the distribution of cardiac output. Cardiac output rose, but placental perfusion decreased while blood flow to the fetal carcass increased. Oxygen consumption by the ovine fetus increased as insulin concentration rose. Since the delivery of oxygen to the fetus did not increase when its use was rising, fetal extraction of available oxygen increased. Fetal arterial hypoxemia is the result of this increased extraction of available oxygen.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Obstetrics and Gynecology