Using an easy and safe procedure for fetal blood sampling in utero, we studied 3,415 fetuses for prenatal diagnosis. Retrospectively, 2,860 normal blood samples, performed from the 18th week of gestation to the end of pregnancy, were selected. Differentials were evaluated in 732 cases. Burst-forming unit erythroid (BFU-E) and erythropoietin (Epo) were measured in 27 and 163 cases, respectively. Total nucleated cell and platelet counts did not change from the 18th to the 30th week of gestation. The lymphocytes represented the main population and the decrease of normoblastic cells made up for the increase in neutrophils. The increase of red blood cells and hemoglobin was substantial during the studied period. At mid trimester threefold more BFU-E were obtained than at birth. Epo levels remained stable throughout the pregnancy and no correlation was found between Epo and gestational age. These normal values of fetal erythropoiesis will improve our knowledge of physiology and provide a better insight into developmental hematopoiesis.

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