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Doppler and birth weight Z score: predictors for adverse neonatal outcome in severe fetal compromise

Fernanda C da Silva12*, Renato A Moreira de Sá12, Paulo RN de Carvalho2 and Laudelino M Lopes2

Author Affiliations

1 Universidade Federal Fluminense, Niterói – Brazil

2 CPDT – Laranjeiras Clínica Perinatal, Rio de Janeiro – Brazil

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Cardiovascular Ultrasound 2007, 5:15  doi:10.1186/1476-7120-5-15

Published: 20 March 2007



An adequate placental perfusion is crucial for the normal growth and well being of the fetus and newborn. The blood flow through the placenta can be compromised in a variety of clinical situations, always causing important damage to the gestation. Our objective is to identify significant predictors for adverse neonatal outcome in severe fetal compromise.


Consecutive premature fetuses at between 25 and 32 weeks with severe placental insufficiency were examined prospectively. Inclusion criteria were: (i) singletons (ii) normal anatomy; (iii) abnormal umbilical artery Doppler pulsatility index (PI); (iv) abnormal cerebroplacental ratio; (v) middle cerebral artery (MCA) PI < - 2SD ("brain sparing"); (vi) last Doppler examination performed within 24 hours prior to delivery. All 46 patients that met criteria and started the study were followed to the end. We considered as independent potential predicting variables: absent or reversed end diastolic flow in umbilical artery, abnormal ductus venosus S/A ratio, absent or reversed flow during atrial contraction in the ductus venosus and birth weight Z score. Outcome parameters were: neonatal mortality and severe neonatal morbidity.


Backward stepwise logistic regression analysis was used to determine the optimal model for the prediction of neonatal mortality and severe neonatal morbidity. In this analysis birth weight Z score index showed the strongest association OR = 1,87 [1,17-2,99] with all neonatal outcome, all other independent variables were excluded for the optimal model. There was no mortality for the group with normal birth weight Z score.


Our study suggests that birth weight Z score is the strongest predictor of adverse neonatal outcome in severe placental insufficiencies. Such use of Z scores, allowing to get rid of gestational age or sex covariates could be extended to estimated fetal weight and might help in making important decisions in the management of compromised pregnancies.