Pregnancy in female carriers of abnormal hemoglobins with great avidity for oxygen provides a unique opportunity to assess the importance of the usual difference in oxygen affinity between fetal and maternal blood. Outcome of pregnancy was recorded for carriers of hemoglobins Bethesda, Osler, and Yakima, whose p50s (9.5, 9.1, and 12 mm Hg at pH 7.4) were far lower than that of a normal fetus (23 mm Hg at pH 7.3). Neither spontaneous abortions nor intrauterine growth retardation could be attributed to the presence of high oxygen affinity in the mothers. In vitro simulations suggested that neither maternal or fetal polycythemia alone was sufficient to adjust for perturbation of the normal situation, and increased uterine and/or fetal blood flow probably provided additional compensation.

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