Growth Restriction In Baby
Intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) refers to a condition in which an unborn baby is smaller than it should be because it is not growing at a normal rate inside the womb.
Delayed growth puts the baby at risk of certain health problems during pregnancy, delivery, and after birth. They include:
- Low birth weight
- Difficulty handling the stresses of vaginal delivery
- Decreased oxygen levels
- Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
- Low resistance to infection
- Low Apgar scores (a test given immediately after birth to evaluate the newborn’s physical condition and determine need for special medical care)
- Meconium aspiration (inhalation of stools passed while in the uterus), which can lead to breathing problems
- Trouble maintaining body temperature
- Abnormally high red blood cell count
In the most severe cases, IUGR can lead to stillbirth. It can also cause long-term growth problems.
Causes of Intrauterine Growth Restriction
IUGR has many possible causes. A common cause is a problem with the placenta. The placenta is the tissue that joins the mother and fetus, carrying oxygen and nutrients to the baby and permitting the release of waste products from the baby.
The condition can also occur as the result of certain health problems in the mother, such as:
Other possible fetal causes include chromosomal defects in the baby or multiple gestation (twins, triplets, or more).
The main symptom of IUGR is a small for gestational age baby. Specifically, the baby’s estimated weight is below the 10th percentile — or less than that of 90% of babies of the same gestational age.
Depending on the cause of IUGR, the baby may be small all over or look malnourished. They may be thin and pale and have loose, dry skin. The umbilical cord is often thin and dull instead of thick and shiny.
Not all babies that are born small have IUGR.
Ultrasound. The main test for checking a baby’s growth in the uterus, ultrasound involves using sound waves to create pictures of the baby. The ultrasound exam lets the doctor see the baby in the uterus with an instrument that is moved over the mother’s abdomen.
Ultrasound can be used to measure the baby’s head and abdomen. The doctor can compare those measurements to growth charts to estimate the baby’s weight. Ultrasound can also be used to determine how much amniotic fluid is in the uterus. A low amount of amniotic fluid could suggest IUGR.
Doppler flow. Doppler flow is a technique that uses sound waves to measure the amount and speed of blood flow through the blood vessels. Doctors may use this test to check the flow of blood in the umbilical cord and vessels in the baby’s brain.