We aimed to study the maternal retinal microvasculature at mid-trimester and its relationship with subsequent fetal growth and birth size.
We recruited 732 pregnant women aged 18-46 years in the first trimester with singleton pregnancies. All had retinal photography and fetal scan performed at 26-28 weeks gestation, and subsequent fetal scan at 32-34 weeks gestation. Infant anthropometric measurements were done at birth. Retinal microvasculature was measured using computer software from the retinal photographs.
In multiple linear regression models, each 10 μm narrowing in maternal retinal arteriolar caliber was associated with decreases of 1.36 mm in fetal head circumference at 32-34 weeks gestation, as well as decreases of 1.50 mm and 2.30 mm in infant head circumference and birth length at delivery, respectively. Each standard deviation decrease in maternal retinal arteriolar fractal dimension was associated with decreases of 1.55 mm in fetal head circumference at 32-34 weeks gestation, as well as decreases of 1.08 mm and 46.42 g in infant head circumference and birth weight at delivery, respectively.
Narrower retinal arteriolar caliber and a sparser retinal vascular network in mothers, reflecting a suboptimal uteroplacental microvasculature during mid-pregnancy, were associated with poorer fetal growth and birth size.