First published July 1, 1984 - More info
Hyperglycemia has been shown to induce arterial hypoxemia in the chronically catheterized fetal sheep. To investigate the mechanism behind this glucose-induced hypoxemia, eight pregnant ewes and their fetuses were studied. Fetal glucose infusion (11.9 +/- 0.6 mg glucose/kg per min) was associated with a doubling of the fetal plasma glucose concentration with concomitant elevation of the umbilical vein-distal arterial O2 content difference by 24 h of infusion (P less than 0.01). Calculated fetal O2 consumption increased from 8.1 +/- 0.4 ml/kg per min in the control period to a maximum value of 10.6 +/- 0.3 ml/kg per min by third infusion day (P less than 0.01), which is an increase of approximately 30%. The degree of stimulation of fetal O2 consumption was related to the degree of fetal hyperglycemia but not to the degree of fetal hyperinsulinemia. The increase in fetal O2 consumption was accompanied by a significant increase in fetal O2 extraction with no change in either fetal O2 delivery or fetal blood O2 affinity. In addition, fetal hypercapnea with a mild fetal respiratory acidosis was induced by fetal hyperglycemia. The increase in fetal arterial PCO2 was linearly related (P less than 0.001) to the magnitude of increase in fetal O2 consumption. These studies suggest that chronic fetal hyperglycemia induces a state of accelerated fetal oxidative metabolism and may be important in explaining the etiology behind certain unusual findings in human infants of diabetic mothers.