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INTRODUCTION: The velocity of fetal deterioration in fetal growth restriction is extremely variable, which makes monitoring and counseling very challenging. The soluble fms-like tyrosine kinase to placental growth factor (sFlt1/PlGF) ratio provides a readout of the vasoactive environment that correlates with preeclampsia and fetal growth restriction and that could be useful to predict fetal deterioration. Previous studies showed a correlation between higher sFlt1/PlGF ratios and lower gestational ages at birth, although it is unclear whether this is due to the increased incidence of preeclampsia. Our goal was to evaluate whether the sFlt1/PlGF ratio predicts faster fetal deterioration in early fetal growth restriction. MATERIAL AND METHODS: This was a historical cohort study in a tertiary maternity hospital. Data from singleton pregnancies with early fetal growth restriction (diagnosed before 32 gestational weeks) confirmed after birth monitored between January 2016 and December 2020 were retrieved from clinical files. Cases of chromosomal/fetal abnormalities, infection and medical terminations of pregnancy were excluded. The sFlt1/PlGF ratio was acquired at diagnosis of early fetal growth restriction in our unit. The correlation of log10 sFlt1/PlGF with latency to delivery/fetal demise was assessed with linear, logistic (positive sFlt1/PlGF if >85) and Cox regression excluding deliveries for maternal conditions and controlling for preeclampsia, gestational age at time of ratio test, maternal age and smoking during pregnancy. Receiver-operating characteristic (ROC) analysis tested the performance of sFlt1/PlGF ratio in predicting delivery for fetal reasons in the following week. RESULTS: 125 patients were included. Mean sFlt1/PlGF ratio was 91.2 (SD 148.7) and 28% of patients had a positive ratio. A higher log10 sFlt1/PlGF ratio predicted shorter latency for delivery/fetal demise in linear regression after controlling for confounders, β = -3.001, (-3.713 to -2.288). Logistic regression with ratio positivity confirmed these findings (latency for delivery 5.7 ± 3.32 weeks for ratios ≤85 vs 1.9 ± 1.52 weeks for ratios >85); β = -0.698 (-1.064 to -0.332). Adjusted Cox regression showed that a positive ratio confers a significantly positive hazard ratio (HR) for earlier delivery/fetal demise, HR 9.869 (5.061-19.243). ROC analysis showed an area under the curve of 0.847 (SE ± 0.06). CONCLUSIONS: sFlt1/PlGF ratio is correlated with faster fetal deterioration in early fetal growth restriction, independently of preeclampsia.

Original publication




Journal article


Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand

Publication Date



fetal deterioration, fetal growth restriction, sFlt1/PlGF ratio