Publications by authors named "Richard J Hiscock"

8 Publications

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Reduced growth velocity from the mid-trimester is associated with placental insufficiency in fetuses born at a normal birthweight.

BMC Med 2020 12 24;18(1):395. Epub 2020 Dec 24.

Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Melbourne, Mercy Hospital for Women, 163 Studley Road, Heidelberg, VIC, 3084, Australia.

Background: Fetal growth restriction (FGR) due to placental insufficiency is a major risk factor for stillbirth. While small-for-gestational-age (SGA; weight < 10th centile) is a commonly used proxy for FGR, detection of FGR among appropriate-for-gestational-age (AGA; weight ≥ 10th centile) fetuses remains an unmet need in clinical care. We aimed to determine whether reduced antenatal growth velocity from the time of routine mid-trimester ultrasound is associated with antenatal, intrapartum and postnatal indicators of placental insufficiency among term AGA infants.

Methods: Three hundred and five women had biometry measurements recorded from their routine mid-trimester (20-week) ultrasound, at 28 and 36 weeks' gestation, and delivered an AGA infant. Mid-trimester, 28- and 36-week estimated fetal weight (EFW) and abdominal circumference (AC) centiles were calculated. The EFW and AC growth velocities between 20 and 28 weeks, and 20-36 weeks, were examined as predictors of four clinical indicators of placental insufficiency: (i) low 36-week cerebroplacental ratio (CPR; CPR < 5th centile reflects cerebral redistribution-a fetal adaptation to hypoxia), (ii) neonatal acidosis (umbilical artery pH < 7.15) after the hypoxic challenge of labour, (iii) low neonatal body fat percentage (BF%) reflecting reduced nutritional reserve and (iv) placental weight < 10th centile.

Results: Declining 20-36-week fetal growth velocity was associated with all indicators of placental insufficiency. Each one centile reduction in EFW between 20 and 36 weeks increased the odds of cerebral redistribution by 2.5% (odds ratio (OR) = 1.025, P = 0.001), the odds of neonatal acidosis by 2.7% (OR = 1.027, P = 0.002) and the odds of a < 10th centile placenta by 3.0% (OR = 1.030, P < 0.0001). Each one centile reduction in AC between 20 and 36 weeks increased the odds of neonatal acidosis by 3.1% (OR = 1.031, P = 0.0005), the odds of low neonatal BF% by 2.8% (OR = 1.028, P = 0.04) and the odds of placenta < 10th centile by 2.1% (OR = 1.021, P = 0.0004). Falls in EFW or AC of > 30 centiles between 20 and 36 weeks were associated with two-threefold increased relative risks of these indicators of placental insufficiency, while low 20-28-week growth velocities were not.

Conclusions: Reduced growth velocity between 20 and 36 weeks among AGA fetuses is associated with antenatal, intrapartum and postnatal indicators of placental insufficiency. These fetuses potentially represent an important, under-recognised cohort at increased risk of stillbirth. Encouragingly, this novel fetal assessment would require only one additional ultrasound to current routine care, and adds to the potential benefits of routine 36-week ultrasound.
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December 2020

Appropriate-for-gestational-age infants who exhibit reduced antenatal growth velocity display postnatal catch-up growth.

PLoS One 2020 8;15(9):e0238700. Epub 2020 Sep 8.

Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia.

Background: Postnatally, small-for-gestational-age (SGA; birthweight <10th centile) infants who are growth restricted due to uteroplacental insufficiency (UPI) demonstrate 'catch-up growth' to meet their genetically-predetermined size. Infants who demonstrate slowing growth during pregnancy are those that cross estimated fetal weight centiles at serial ultrasound examinations. These infants that slow in growth but are born appropriate-for-gestational-age (AGA; ≥10th centile), exhibit antenatal, intrapartum and postnatal indicators of UPI. Here, we examine if and when these infants (labelled as AGA-FGR) also demonstrate catch-up growth like SGA infants, when compared with AGA infants with normal antenatal growth velocity (AGA-NG).

Methods: We followed-up the infants of women who had previously undergone ultrasound assessment of fetal size at 28- and 36-weeks' gestation, enabling calculation of antenatal growth velocity. To assess postnatal growth, we asked parents to send their infant's growth measurements, up to two years post-birth, which are routinely collected through the state-wide Maternal-Child Health service. Infants with medical conditions affecting postnatal growth were excluded from the analysis. From the measurements obtained we calculated age-adjusted z-scores for postnatal weight, length and body mass index (BMI; weight(kg)/height(m2)) at birth and 4, 8, 12, 18 and 24 months. We used linear spline regression modelling to predict mean weight, length and BMI z-scores at intervals post birth. Predicted mean age-adjusted z-scores were then compared between three groups; SGA, AGA with low antenatal growth (AGA-FGR; loss of >20 customised estimated fetal weight centiles), and AGA-NG to determine if catch-up growth occurred. In addition, we compared the rates of catch-up growth (defined as an increase in weight age-adjusted z-score of ≥0.67 over 1 year) between the groups with Fisher's exact tests.

Results: Of 158 (46%) infant growth records received, 146 were AGA, with low antenatal growth velocity occurring in 34/146 (23.2%). Rates of gestational diabetes and SGA birthweight were higher in those lost to follow-up. Compared to AGA-NG infants, AGA-FGR infants had significantly lower predicted mean weight (p<0.001), length (p = 0.04) and BMI (p = 0.001) z-scores at birth. These significant differences were no longer evident at 4 months, suggesting that catch-up growth had occurred. As expected, the catch-up growth that occurred among the AGA-FGR was not as great in magnitude as that demonstrated by the SGA. When assessed categorically, there was no significant difference between the rate of catch-up growth among the AGA-FGR and the SGA. Catch-up growth was significantly more frequent among both the AGA-FGR and the SGA groups compared to the AGA-NG.

Conclusions: AGA infants that have exhibited reduced antenatal fetal growth velocity also exhibit significant catch-up growth in the first 12 months of life. This finding represents further evidence that AGA fetuses that slow in growth during pregnancy do so due to UPI.
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October 2020

Circulating SPINT1 is a biomarker of pregnancies with poor placental function and fetal growth restriction.

Nat Commun 2020 05 15;11(1):2411. Epub 2020 May 15.

Translational Obstetrics Group, The Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Mercy Hospital for Women, University of Melbourne, Heidelberg, 3084, Victoria, Australia.

Placental insufficiency can cause fetal growth restriction and stillbirth. There are no reliable screening tests for placental insufficiency, especially near-term gestation when the risk of stillbirth rises. Here we show a strong association between low circulating plasma serine peptidase inhibitor Kunitz type-1 (SPINT1) concentrations at 36 weeks' gestation and low birthweight, an indicator of placental insufficiency. We generate a 4-tier risk model based on SPINT1 concentrations, where the highest risk tier has approximately a 2-5 fold risk of birthing neonates with birthweights under the 3, 5, 10 and 20 centiles, whereas the lowest risk tier has a 0-0.3 fold risk. Low SPINT1 is associated with antenatal ultrasound and neonatal anthropomorphic indicators of placental insufficiency. We validate the association between low circulating SPINT1 and placental insufficiency in two other cohorts. Low circulating SPINT1 is a marker of placental insufficiency and may identify pregnancies with an elevated risk of stillbirth.
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May 2020

Identification of the optimal growth charts for use in a preterm population: An Australian state-wide retrospective cohort study.

PLoS Med 2019 10 4;16(10):e1002923. Epub 2019 Oct 4.

Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

Background: Preterm infants are a group at high risk of having experienced placental insufficiency. It is unclear which growth charts perform best in identifying infants at increased risk of stillbirth and other adverse perinatal outcomes. We compared 2 birthweight charts (population centiles and INTERGROWTH-21st birthweight centiles) and 3 fetal growth charts (INTERGROWTH-21st fetal growth charts, World Health Organization fetal growth charts, and Gestation Related Optimal Weight [GROW] customised growth charts) to identify which chart performed best in identifying infants at increased risk of adverse perinatal outcome in a preterm population.

Methods And Findings: We conducted a retrospective cohort study of all preterm infants born at 24.0 to 36.9 weeks gestation in Victoria, Australia, from 2005 to 2015 (28,968 records available for analysis). All above growth charts were applied to the population. Proportions classified as <5th centile and <10th centile by each chart were compared, as were proportions of stillborn infants considered small for gestational age (SGA, <10th centile) by each chart. We then compared the relative performance of non-overlapping SGA cohorts by each chart to our low-risk reference population (infants born appropriate size for gestational age [>10th and <90th centile] by all intrauterine charts [AGAall]) for the following perinatal outcomes: stillbirth, perinatal mortality (stillbirth or neonatal death), Apgar <4 or <7 at 5 minutes, neonatal intensive care unit admissions, suspicion of poor fetal growth leading to expedited delivery, and cesarean section. All intrauterine charts classified a greater proportion of infants as <5th or <10th centile than birthweight charts. The magnitude of the difference between birthweight and fetal charts was greater at more preterm gestations. Of the fetal charts, GROW customised charts classified the greatest number of infants as SGA (22.3%) and the greatest number of stillborn infants as SGA (57%). INTERGROWTH classified almost no additional infants as SGA that were not already considered SGA on GROW or WHO charts; however, those infants classified as SGA by INTERGROWTH had the greatest risk of both stillbirth and total perinatal mortality. GROW customised charts classified a larger proportion of infants as SGA, and these infants were still at increased risk of mortality and adverse perinatal outcomes compared to the AGAall population. Consistent with similar studies in this field, our study was limited in comparing growth charts by the degree of overlap, with many infants classified as SGA by multiple charts. We attempted to overcome this by examining and comparing sub-populations classified as SGA by only 1 growth chart.

Conclusions: In this study, fetal charts classified greater proportions of preterm and stillborn infants as SGA, which more accurately reflected true fetal growth restriction. Of the intrauterine charts, INTERGROWTH classified the smallest number of preterm infants as SGA, although it identified a particularly high-risk cohort, and GROW customised charts classified the greatest number at increased risk of perinatal mortality.
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October 2019

Assessing the sensitivity of placental growth factor and soluble fms-like tyrosine kinase 1 at 36 weeks' gestation to predict small-for-gestational-age infants or late-onset preeclampsia: a prospective nested case-control study.

BMC Pregnancy Childbirth 2018 Aug 31;18(1):354. Epub 2018 Aug 31.

Mercy Perinatal, Mercy Hospital for Women, Melbourne, VIC, Australia.

Background: Fetal growth restriction is a disorder of placental dysfunction with three to four-fold increased risk of stillbirth. Fetal growth restriction has pathophysiological features in common with preeclampsia. We hypothesised that angiogenesis-related factors in maternal plasma, known to predict preeclampsia, may also detect fetal growth restriction at 36 weeks' gestation. We therefore set out to determine the diagnostic performance of soluble fms-like tyrosine kinase 1 (sFlt-1), placental growth factor (PlGF), and the sFlt-1:PlGF ratio, measured at 36 weeks' gestation, in identifying women who subsequently give birth to small-for-gestational-age (SGA; birthweight <10th centile) infants. We also aimed to validate the predictive performance of the analytes for late-onset preeclampsia in a large independent, prospective cohort.

Methods: A nested 1:2 case-control study was performed including 102 cases of SGA infants and a matched group of 207 controls; and 39 cases of preeclampsia. We determined the diagnostic performance of each angiogenesis-related factor, and of their ratio, to detect SGA infants or preeclampsia, for a predetermined 10% false positive rate.

Results: Median plasma levels of PlGF at 36 weeks' gestation were significantly lower in women who subsequently had SGA newborns (178.5 pg/ml) compared to normal birthweight controls (326.7 pg/ml, p < 0.0001). sFlt-1 was also higher among SGA cases, but this was not significant after women with concurrent preeclampsia were excluded. The sensitivity of PlGF to predict SGA infants was 28.8% for a 10% false positive rate. The sFlt-1:PlGF ratio demonstrated better sensitivity for preeclampsia than either analyte alone, detecting 69.2% of cases for a 10% false positive rate.

Conclusions: Plasma PlGF at 36 weeks' gestation is significantly lower in women who subsequently deliver a SGA infant. While the sensitivity and specificity of PlGF currently limit clinical translation, our findings support a blood-based biomarker approach to detect late-onset fetal growth restriction. Thirty-six week sFlt-1:PlGF ratio predicts 69.2% of preeclampsia cases, and could be a useful screening test to triage antenatal surveillance.
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August 2018

Placental thickness in the second trimester: a pilot study to determine the normal range.

J Ultrasound Med 2012 Feb;31(2):213-8

Royal Women's Hospital, Flemington Road, Parkville, VIC 3052, Australia.

Objectives: We sought to determine the normal sonographically measured placental thickness in millimeters at the second-trimester scan (18 weeks to 22 weeks 6 days) and determine whether the measurement should be adjusted for gestational age and the placental site.

Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional observational pilot study involving 114 consecutive patients with singleton pregnancies presenting for routine second-trimester sonography between 18 weeks and 22 weeks 6 days.

Results: The unadjusted overall mean placental thickness was 24.6 (SD, 7.29) mm. The placental thickness was normally distributed. On multivariable analysis, the predicted mean thickness was 6.6 mm (95% confidence interval, 4.4 to 8.8 mm; P < .001) less in anterior compared to posterior or fundal placentas and increased by 0.6 mm (95% confidence interval, -0.5 to 1.7 mm; P = .27) for each week increase in gestation after 18 weeks

Conclusions: The placental position and possibly gestational age need to be considered when determining placental thickness. Anterior placentas are approximately 7 mm thinner than posterior or fundal placentas. Anterior placentas of greater than 33 mm and posterior placentas of greater than 40 mm should be considered abnormally thick.
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February 2012

Sacral nerve stimulation for fecal incontinence: long-term outcomes.

Dis Colon Rectum 2011 Aug;54(8):969-74

Colorectal Surgery Unit, Royal Melbourne Hospital, Melbourne, Australia.

Background: Numerous studies advocate the short-term benefits of sacral nerve stimulation for fecal incontinence, but there has been a paucity of studies on longer-term outcomes.

Objective: The objective of this study was to report the long-term outcome of sacral nerve stimulation performed for fecal incontinence at a single institution.

Patients And Design: Between January 2004 and May 2007, 53 patients underwent definitive sacral nerve stimulation for fecal incontinence at our institution. Prospectively recorded baseline information, including Wexner incontinence scores and standard short-form (SF-12) health survey scores, were compared with scores at follow-up.

Results: Forty-one patients were available for long-term follow-up with a mean duration of 51 months. The median Wexner score decreased from a baseline of 11.5 (range, 3.0-18.0) to 8.0 (range, 0.0-18.0) at follow-up. The mean difference in Wexner score was 2.7 (P < .001). There was no statistically significant change in SF-12 physical scores, but a small but highly significant change occurred in SF-12 mental scores. The median SF-12 mental domain score was 49.5 (range, 15.0-62.1) at baseline, and 57.0 (range, 20.0-64.0) at follow-up, with a mean difference of 4.5 (P = .006). Subgroup analysis performed comparing patients with or without prior intersphincteric silicon biomaterial implants demonstrated a mean difference in Wexner score of -3.5 (no implant) vs 0.0 (previous implant), with P < .09 (not statistically significant).

Conclusions: Sacral nerve stimulation results in a statistically significant improvement in fecal incontinence scores in the long term.
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August 2011

Gestational diabetes mellitus: clinical predictors and long-term risk of developing type 2 diabetes: a retrospective cohort study using survival analysis.

Diabetes Care 2007 Apr;30(4):878-83

Department of Perinatal Medicine, Mercy Hospital for Women, Heidelberg, Victoria, Australia.

Objective: We sought to determine the long-term risk of type 2 diabetes following a pregnancy complicated by gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) and assess what maternal antepartum, postpartum, and neonatal factors are predictive of later development of type 2 diabetes.

Research Design And Methods: This was a retrospective cohort study using survival analysis on 5,470 GDM patients and 783 control subjects who presented for postnatal follow-up at the Mercy Hospital for Women between 1971 and 2003.

Results: Risk of developing diabetes increased with time of follow-up for both groups and was 9.6 times greater for patients with GDM. The cumulative risk of developing type 2 diabetes for the GDM patients was 25.8% at 15 years postdiagnosis. Predictive factors for the development of type 2 diabetes were use of insulin (hazard ratio 3.5), Asian origin compared with Caucasian (2.1), and 1-h blood glucose (1.3 for every 1 mmol increase above 10.1 mmol). BMI was associated with an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes but did not meet the assumption of proportional hazards required for valid inference when using Cox proportional hazards.

Conclusions: While specific predictive factors for the later development of type 2 diabetes can be identified in the index pregnancy, women with a history of GDM, as a group, are worthy of long-term follow-up to ameliorate their excess cardiovascular risk.
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April 2007