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Sex differences in fetal Doppler parameters during gestation

  • Jagota, Dakshita1
  • George, Hannah1
  • Walker, Melissa2, 3
  • Ravi Chandran, Anjana2
  • Milligan, Natasha4
  • Shinar, Shiri2
  • Whitehead, Clare L.5
  • Hobson, Sebastian R.2
  • Serghides, Lena6, 3, 7
  • Parks, W. Tony2, 3
  • Baschat, Ahmet A.8
  • Macgowan, Christopher K.4, 3
  • Sled, John G.3, 4, 3, 4
  • Kingdom, John C.2, 3
  • Cahill, Lindsay S.1
  • 1 Memorial University of Newfoundland, 283 Prince Philip Drive, St. John’s, NL, A1B 3X7, Canada , St. John’s (Canada)
  • 2 Mount Sinai Hospital, Toronto, Ontario, Canada , Toronto (Canada)
  • 3 University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada , Toronto (Canada)
  • 4 The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Ontario, Canada , Toronto (Canada)
  • 5 Royal Women’s Hospital, Parkville, Australia , Parkville (Australia)
  • 6 University Health Network, Toronto, Ontario, Canada , Toronto (Canada)
  • 7 Women’s College Hospital, Toronto, Ontario, Canada , Toronto (Canada)
  • 8 Johns Hopkins Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA , Baltimore (United States)
Published Article
Biology of Sex Differences
BioMed Central
Publication Date
Mar 10, 2021
DOI: 10.1186/s13293-021-00370-7
Springer Nature


BackgroundFetal sex is known to affect pregnancy outcomes. In current clinical practice, monitoring of fetal well-being is based on Doppler ultrasound measurements of major placental and fetal vessels. The objective of this study was to investigate the effect of fetal sex on Doppler parameters throughout gestation in healthy pregnancy.MethodsA prospective study was conducted in 240 pregnant women with ultrasound examinations at a 4-weekly interval between 12 and 38 weeks of gestation. Pulsed Doppler spectra were collected for the umbilical arteries (UAs), middle cerebral artery (MCA), descending abdominal aorta (DAo), and ductus venosus (DV). Linear mixed effects models were used to determine if the pulsatility indices (PIs) of these vessels depended on gestational age and fetal sex.ResultsWhile there were no differences in the MCA PI and DV PIV over gestation between female and male fetuses, the trajectory of the UA and DAo PIs differed by fetal sex (p = 0.02 and p = 0.01, respectively).ConclusionsDoppler ultrasound parameters were found to be dependent on fetal sex for some vessels and not for others in healthy pregnancies. Further investigations are needed to understand the physiological mechanisms for these sex differences and the relevance for disease processes in pregnancy.

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