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Feeding Foetuses

Placenta blood vessel changes are associated with brain and lung problems in foetuses experiencing intrauterine growth restriction

21 December 2022

Feeding Foetuses

During pregnancy, a foetus needs a steady supply of nutrients via the placenta. If something goes wrong with the placenta, foetal growth restriction (FGR) can occur, which can be fatal. Currently, there's no treatment, other than early delivery. Research into treatments has proven challenging as animal models aren’t yet well-characterised enough to provide useful results for translation into human trials. Researchers now describe placenta function and structure in an FGR rabbit model. Rabbit foetuses and accompanying placentas were delivered 5 days after inducing FGR. Placentas were analysed using computed microtomography (normal placenta pictured, colours indicate vessel diameter) revealing fewer blood vessels in the region supplying nutrients to the foetus. What's more, the delivered foetuses showed behavioural and lung problems, with subsequent testing of their brains and lungs revealing structural changes too. This model highlights how placenta blood vessel changes coincide with brain and lung problems in foetuses during FGR.

Written by Lux Fatimathas

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