Does chronic mountain sickness (CMS) have perinatal origins?
Moore, Lorna G
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Abstract. Chronic mountain sickness (CMS) occurs in 10% of male high-altitude residents. It is characterized by hypoventilation and hypoxemia but its underlying cause remains unknown. We hypothesized that CMS' origins reside in exaggerated perinatal hypoxia that server, in turn, to impair the development of pulmonary structure and/or respiratory control. As a preliminary test, we asked if birth weights were low and other signs of perinatal hypoxia were present in 12 young men with excessive erythrocytosis (EE, Hb> 18.3 g/dL), a condition thought to be a preclinical phase of CMS. Their birth weights were uniformly low (2571+-243g) and all but one demonstrated perinatl hypoxia as manifested either by being small for their gestational age (SGA, 8%), preterm (67%), born to a preeclamptic (PE) mother (50%), or diagnosed with neonatal hypoxia (83%). Impaired growth in utero has been shown to raise susceptibility to adult disease; these are the first data to demonstrate a possible influence of reduced fetal growth and/or exaggerated perinatal hypoxia on increasing the susceptibility to CMS. future studies, with more detailed testing in larger samples of control as well as EE subjects, with longitudinal follow-up, are required to determine the role of perinatal hypoxiain the development of CMS.