Intrauterine Growth Restriction Fetal Growth Restriction

October 18, 2011

Intrauterine growth Restriction (IUGR) is a condition where fetus has slowed growth inside the uterus. Typically, a fetus’s size and weight will be in the lowest 10 percent for the baby’s gestational age.

Babies with IUGR will have a low birth weight, may develop hypothermia when born, and have a higher rate of stillbirth and fetal distress.

How is Intrauterine Growth Restriction (IUGR) Diagnosed?

Intrauterine growth restriction can be difficult to diagnose, because there are generally little or no signs and symptoms.

It is vital that you keep all of your prenatal visits and check-ups because this is the only way that IUGR can be detected. At each of your prenatal visits, your health care provider will measure your uterus to see how your baby is growing.

IUGR is usually discovered at a prenatal visit, when your health care provider detects that your measurements and your weight are not increasing at a normal rate.

Once IUGR is suspected, an ultrasound can be used to confirm the diagnosis.

What Causes Intrauterine Growth Restriction (IUGR)?

Intrauterine Growth Restriction (IUGR) could be the result of problems with the placenta, which prevent the proper transfer of nutrition and oxygen to the fetus.

The following may contribute to a predisposition to IUGR:

  • Cigarette smoking
  • Drug abuse
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Maternal high blood pressure
  • Preeclampsia or eclampsia
  • Malnutrition or poor weight gain by the mother
  • Disease in the mother
  • Multiples pregnancies
  • Immune disorders
  • Cord or placenta abnormalities
  • Rubella, cytomegalovirus, or toxoplasmosis infection
  • Birth defects or chromosomal abnormalities
  • Maternal anemia

What is the Treatment for Intrauterine Growth Restriction (IUGR)?

The first step to improving intrauterine growth restriction is to avoid correct any contributing factors, such as smoking, drug use, alcohol use, or poor nutrition.

Sometimes admission to the hospital or bed rest may be prescribed. Resting on your side takes pressure off of the uterus and can help the baby get optimal blood flow, which is key to improving the baby’s health and growth.

If disease in the mother is the cause of IUGR, then treatment will be geared at improving the mother’s health.

Ultrasound may be used every few weeks to help track the baby’s growth and development. Your healthcare provider may suggest an amniocentesis in order to evaluate whether or not the fetus has any chromosomal abnormalities or if an infection is present.

If test results show that your baby is not growing well and that the fetus is in danger, your health care provider may recommend early delivery of your baby. This may be done by inducing a vaginal labor or by caesarian, depending on the issues involved.

Sometimes it is possible to reverse IUGR with careful monitoring and early intervention. Even if the baby does not catch up to normal size before birth, it is not an indication of future growth and development.

Many growth restricted babies will catch up to normal sizes by the time they are 1 ½ to 2 years of age. In many cases the chances are high that most growth restricted babies will have normal physical and intellectual development over time.

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