An adverse fetal environment may lead to smaller kidneys and subsequent hypertension with renal disease in adult life. The aim of our study was to examine whether maternal characteristics, fetal growth, fetal blood flow redistribution, or inadequate placental perfusion in different periods of fetal life affect kidney volume in late fetal life. We also determined if fetal kidney volume was linked to the amount of amniotic fluid. In a population-based prospective study from early fetal life, fetal growth characteristics and fetal blood flow parameters were assessed by ultrasound and Doppler examinations in 1215 women in mid- and late-pregnancy. Kidney volume was measured in late pregnancy. Maternal height and pre-pregnancy weight were associated with kidney volume. After adjustment for the same characteristics in late pregnancy, fetal growth and blood flow in mid-pregnancy were not associated with kidney volume in late pregnancy. In late pregnancy, however, all fetal growth parameters were positively linked with kidney volume. The largest effect on kidney volume was found for abdominal circumference. Signs of fetal blood flow redistribution and increased placental resistance were associated with decreased kidney volume in late pregnancy. Amniotic fluid volume was positively associated with kidney volume. Our study shows that maternal anthropometrics, fetal growth, fetal blood flow redistribution, and raised placental resistance all correlate with kidney volume.

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Kidney International
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Verburg, B. O., Geelhoed, M., Steegers-Theunissen, R., Hofman, A., Moll, H., Witteman, J., & Jaddoe, V. (2007). Fetal kidney volume and its association with growth and blood flow in fetal life: The Generation R Study. Kidney International, 72(6), 754–761. doi:10.1038/