Fetal heart rate and umbilical blood flow

J. H.G. Rankin, M. K. Stock, D. F. Anderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


It has been suggested previously that norepinephrine does not change fetal placental vascular resistance but does change placental blood flow by changing fetal heart rate. We have tested the hypthesis that fetal heart rate is a determinant of fetal placental blood flow by observing changes in placental vascular resistance in 10 chronically catheterized near-term sheep fetuses. Pressures and flow were observed in the control condition and 150 s after the initiation of infusion of norepinephrine at 50 μg/min. The fetuses were then given 1.5 mg of atropine and control observations were again made. The norepinephrine infusion was repeated and pressure and blood flows were measured after 150' s. Atropine increased the fetal heart rate from 168 ± 6 to 205 ± 12 beats/min. Placental vascular resistance did not change. Norepinephrine resulted in bradycardia, hypertension and an increased placental vascular resistance. After pretreatment with atropine, norepinephrine resulted in tachycardia, hypertension and an increased placental vascular resistance. We conclude that fetal heart rate is not a major determinant of blood flow and that high doses of norepinephrine cause vasoconstriction of the placental vascular bed of the near-term sheep fetus.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11-16
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Developmental Physiology
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 1980
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental Biology
  • Physiology


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