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BACKGROUND: Assessment of fetal adipose tissue gives information about the future metabolic health of an individual, with evidence that the development of this tissue has regional heterogeneity.
OBJECTIVE: To assess differences in the proton density fat fraction (PDFF) between fetal adipose tissue compartments in the third trimester using water-fat magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
MATERIALS AND METHODS: Water-fat MRI was performed in a 1.5-T scanner. Fetal adipose tissue was segmented into cheeks, thorax, abdomen, upper arms, forearms, thighs and lower legs. PDFF and R2* values were measured in each compartment.
RESULTS: Twenty-eight women with singleton pregnancies were imaged between 28 and 38 weeks of gestation. At 30 weeks' gestation (n=22), the PDFF was statistically different between the compartments (P
CONCLUSION: Fetal adipose tissue accumulates lipids at a similar rate in all white adipose tissue compartments. PDFF variances between the compartments suggest that accumulation begins at different gestational ages, starting with cheeks, followed by extremities, trunk and abdomen. Additionally, MRI was able to detect differences in the PDFF between fetal brown adipose tissue and white adipose tissue.
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