Can the lungs of the fetus be damaged if the placenta does not work well? How can we study them? These are some of the questions that the research project “Impact for fetal growth restriction on lung development” tries to answer.

One in 10 babies may have a growth problem (restricted intrauterine growth or IUGR) because the placenta is not feeding the baby well. We know that these fetuses, once they are born, usually have a normal life, but they are more susceptible to some respiratory diseases such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

We assume that these problems have their origin in prenatal life. However, it is unknown how the lungs of these small fetuses develop while they are in the womb and what is the specific problem with their lungs.

From 1st January 2019 to 31st December 2023

“We are studying the lung of babies with fetal growth retardation to understand how it affects this very critical stage in their development”

Methodology and participants

We will use ultrasound (with 2D, 3D, image of pulmonary textures and Doppler technique that allow us to study the blood vessels of the lung) and magnetic resonance (standard sequences and advanced sequences that allow us to study the blood perfusion of the lungs). In addition, the function of the lungs will be tested, studying how they respond while we give oxygen (with a mask) to their mother for 10 minutes.

Finally, some lung proteins will also be analyzed in the laboratory. All this will allow: 1) to know how the RIC affects the development of the lungs, and 2) to improve imaging techniques that will allow us to better study the lung of babies inside the uterus.

The lung of small fetuses will be studied using imaging techniques safe for the baby such as ultrasound or MRI. Blood will also be collected from the umbilical cord and some proteins that are made in the fetal lungs and that serve to know how the lung is developing will be measured.

Innovation & Impact

This project is very relevant because it applies to a high percentage of newborns (7-10%) and concerns an organ as essential as the lung. Most of the current biomedical research focuses on adult diseases, but in our opinion it is essential to also study fetuses in order to improve their health from the earliest stages and thus be able to prevent future diseases.

The results of this project can be applied in clinical practice, being able to offer future pregnant women new ultrasound and resonance techniques to study the fetal lung, and thus be able to improve the health and quality of life of their babies.


Fátima Crispi
Principal Investigator

Kilian Vellvè
Principal Investigator


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With the collaboration of

web obra social la caixa
web cerebra
Web proyecto cellex
Web link ciberer
Web link hernia diagrafmática congénita
Ministerio de economía web link
Red SAMID web link
Dexeus campus link web
fondos feder web link
Aguaur link web