Fetal circulation

Fetal Circulation

Fetal circulation

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The fetal circulation is the circulatory system of a human fetus, often encompassing the entire fetoplacental circulation that also includes the umbilical cord and the blood vessels within the placenta that carry fetal blood.

The fetal circulation works differently from that of born humans, mainly because the lungs are not in use: the fetus obtains oxygen and nutrients from the mother through the placenta and the umbilical cord.

Placental role

The core concept behind fetal circulation is that fetal hemoglobin has a higher affinity for oxygen than does adult hemoglobin, which allows a diffusion of oxygen from the mother's circulatory system to the fetus. The circulatory system of the mother is not directly connected to that of the fetus, so the placenta functions as the respiratory center for the fetus as well as a site of filtration for plasma nutrients and wastes. Water, glucose, amino acids, vitamins, and inorganic salts freely diffuse across the placenta along with oxygen. The uterine arteries carry oxygenated blood to the placenta, and permeates the sponge like material there. Oxygen then diffuses from the placenta to the chorionic villus, an alveolus-like structure, where it is then carried to the umbilical vein.


Blood from the placenta is carried to the fetus by the umbilical vein. About half of this enters the fetal ductus venosus and is carried to the inferior vena cava, while the other half enters the......
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