Volume 49, Issue 5 (September 2004)
Fetal Visceral Maturation: A Useful Contribution to Gestational Age Estimation in Human Fetuses
With regard to the law, estimating fetal age is essential to assess viability (after 20 weeks according to the WHO) and the proposed methods generally use long bone measurements. Here, we evaluated the accuracy of soft tissue maturational stage and compared it with long bone measurements. First, eight kinds of tissues or organs from 448 fetuses with known medical history were studied (macroscopically or histologically). We clearly demonstrated that adrenal glands and skin were very good age indicators, because some characteristics appeared only after 20 weeks. We established a linear regression with a 95% confidence interval of +/− 2.9 weeks. Second, we applied our original formula using femur measurement and we combined soft tissues and bones in a multiparametric regression. The confidence interval was reduced to +/− 2.5 weeks. We conclude that the pathologist must use both histological and anthropometric data to determine fetal age as accurately as possible.