If a pregnant mother is small, it may be normal for her baby to be small. But when a developing fetus doesn’t grow at the expected rate inside the womb, intrauterine growth restriction may be identified. Depending on the cause of IUGR, the developing baby may be small all over, or his or her head may be normal in size while the rest of the body is small.
Fetal growth restriction is one of the leading causes of perinatal death, which is why fetal growth assessments at each prenatal visit are so important.
- What is Intrauterine Growth Restriction
There are many reason why a baby may appear small in the womb. They may not be growing properly due to a lack of oxygen or nutrients needed to thrive. Less commonly, a genetic defect interferes with fetal growth.
Management of IUGR depends on the severity of growth restriction and how early the problem is detected in the pregnancy. The maternal-fetal medicine specialists at Fetal Care Center Dallas are highly skilled in providing the earliest possible diagnosis and interventions for babies affected by intrauterine growth restriction.
COMMON CAUSES OF IUGR
- Abnormalities in the placenta, which delivers oxygen and nutrients to the baby in the womb. The placenta may not function properly if it’s too small, improperly formed, starts to detach from the uterus (placental abruption) or is too low in the uterus (placenta previa).
- Chronic maternal hypertension or preeclampsia, kidney or heart disease, advanced diabetes, a blood-clotting disorder or serious lung disease
- Women who are underweight before pregnancy and don’t gain enough weight during pregnancy
- Down syndrome or other chromosomal abnormality
- Structural birth defects or defects in the kidneys or abdominal wall
- Carrying twins or higher multiples
- Severe malnourishment or anemia
- Smoking, drinking or abusing drugs during pregnancy
- An infection passed from mother to baby, such as syphilis or rubella
- How we treat IUGR
If IUGR is suspected during your pregnancy, we will perform periodic ultrasounds to check your baby’s size and rate of growth, and to estimate the amount of amniotic fluid in your womb. Blood tests or an amniocentesis may also be done to see if an infection or problems with blood clotting are causing the problem.
We also use biophysical profiles and Doppler studies to assess your health and that of your baby. Although IUGR cannot be reversed, some treatments may help slow or minimize the effects. These include nutrition changes, bedrest and early delivery of the baby.
How a growth-restricted baby will do in the long run depends largely on what caused the growth problem in the first place, how severe the condition is, how early in pregnancy it starts and the baby’s gestational age at birth. Most growth-restricted babies who are otherwise healthy eventually catch up with their peers, although some — especially those born prematurely — may have developmental problems.
Diagnostic testing available at Fetal Care Center Dallas allows us to detect and monitor IUGR, and make expert recommendations to provide the healthiest possible start for your newborn.