McCrabb, G. J. and R. Harding. Cerebral oxygen delivery is reduced during the acidaemia associated with prolonged hypoxaemia in the immature ovine fetus. Biology Of The Neonate. 71:385-394, 1997.

Our aim was to determine the effects of 12 h of hypoxaemia on cerebral blood flow (CBF) and cerebral O-2 delivery in ovine fetuses at 0.6 gestation. During fetal hypoxaemia, induced by reduced uterine blood flow, fetal SaO(2) and PaO2 were reduced (p < 0.01) from control values of 77.0 +/- 1.6% and 27.3 +/- 1.0 mm Hg, respectively, to 28.4 +/- 3.4% and 15.6 +/- 0.6 mm Hg; fetal pHa decreased from control values of 7.37 +/- 0.01 to 7.20 +/- 0.02 at 3 h, but returned to control values before 12 h. CBF (ml/min/100 g) was 2.0- to 2.6-fold higher (p < 0.01) than control values during hypoxaemia, but only 1.7-fold higher (p < 0.01) at 3 h when pHa was lowest. Cerebral O-2 delivery (ml/min/100 g) was lower (p < 0.01) than control values of 3.15 +/- 0.29 at 1.5 h (2.09 +/- 0.36) and 3 h (1.84 +/- 0.22) of hypoxaemia and higher I h after hypoxaemia had ceased (3.81 +/- 0.22, p < 0.01). We conclude that the ovine fetus at 0.6 gestation is unable to sustain increased CBF and hence maintain cerebral O-2 delivery during the first 6 h of hypoxaemia, a time which coincides with acidaemia; in contrast, at 6 and 12 h of hypoxaemia, when pHa was normal, cerebral O-2 delivery was similar to control values. Reduced cerebral O-2 delivery during the early, acidaemic, stages of hypoxaemia may lead to impaired neural development.