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International Journal of Pediatrics
Volume 2010, Article ID 401323, 9 pages
Review Article

Causes and Mechanisms of Intrauterine Hypoxia and Its Impact on the Fetal Cardiovascular System: A Review

1Pediatric Critical Care Medicine and Pediatric Cardiology, University Children's Hospital, 3010 Berne, Switzerland
2Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, Mount Sinai Hospital, Toronto, ON, Canada M5G 1X5
3Division of Cardiology, Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, ON, Canada M5G 1X8

Received 18 March 2010; Revised 4 August 2010; Accepted 16 September 2010

Academic Editor: Anita J. Moon-Grady

Copyright © 2010 Damian Hutter et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Until today the role of oxygen in the development of the fetus remains controversially discussed. It is still believed that lack of oxygen in utero might be responsible for some of the known congenital cardiovascular malformations. Over the last two decades detailed research has given us new insights and a better understanding of embryogenesis and fetal growth. But most importantly it has repeatedly demonstrated that oxygen only plays a minor role in the early intrauterine development. After organogenesis has taken place hypoxia becomes more important during the second and third trimester of pregnancy when fetal growth occurs. This review will briefly adress causes and mechanisms leading to intrauterine hypoxia and their impact on the fetal cardiovascular system.