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South African Medical Journal

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Do high fetal catecholamine levels affect heart rate variability and tneconiutn passage during labour?

G.J. Hofmeyr, J. Esser, V. Cheryl Ukodem, Marie Lawson, T. Kramer, A. M. Gulmezoglu

Abstract


Objectives. To deternrine the relationship between Umbilical arterial catecholamine levels and fetal heart rate variability and meconium passage.
Study design. A prospective descriptive study was perfonned. Umbilical artery catecholamine levels were measured in 55 newborns and correlated with fetal heart rate before delivery, Umbilical arterial pH, base excess and the presence of meconum-stained liquor.
Results and conclusion. The range of catecholanrine levels was enonnous, with very high epinephrine or norepinephrine levels in several fetuses. We were unable to demonstrate an association between high catecholamine levels and the presence of nonnal fetal heart rate variability despite acidaemia. We postulate that high catecholamine levels may inhibit fetal meconiUITl passage.




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