Intrauterine growth restriction, also known as fetal growth restriction is a condition that occurs when the fetus doesn’t grow at a normal rate in the uterus.
If you are a pregnant woman, you must know about intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR). IUGR is a condition that can occur when a baby does not grow as expected inside the uterus. In some cases, IUGR can lead to health problems for the baby after birth.
In this blog post, we will discuss the causes of IUGR, symptoms, and treatment options. We will also provide advice for pregnant women on how to protect their babies from IUGR.
What is intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR)?
Intrauterine growth restriction, presently known as fetal growth restriction (FGR) is a condition that occurs when the fetus does not grow at a normal rate inside the uterus. It can be diagnosed during pregnancy, usually during a routine ultrasound. IUGR can cause serious health problems for both the mother and the baby.
Fetal growth restriction (FGR) is a condition in which an unborn baby (fetus) is smaller than expected for the number of weeks of pregnancy (gestational age). It is often described as an estimated fetal weight less than the 10th percentile.
There are two types of IUGR: symmetric and asymmetric.
- Symmetric IUGR occurs when the entire fetus is small.
- Asymmetric IUGR occurs when only some parts of the fetus are small. Asymmetric growth restriction implies a fetus that is undernourished and is directing most of its energy to maintain the growth of vital organs, such as the brain and heart, at the expense of the liver, muscle, and fat.
This type of growth restriction is usually the result of placental insufficiency. A fetus with asymmetric IUGR has a normal head dimension but a small abdominal circumference (due to decreased liver size), scrawny limbs (because of decreased muscle mass), and thinned skin (because of decreased fat).
What causes intrauterine growth restriction?
IUGR can be caused by many different things, including problems with the placenta or placental insufficiency, infections, chromosomal abnormalities, and high blood pressure.
Risk factors of intrauterine growth retardation
Risk factors in the mother that may contribute to IUGR include smoking, drinking alcohol, or using drugs.
She may have an infection, such as cytomegalovirus, toxoplasmosis, or syphilis. These infections can be passed from the mother to the baby during pregnancy.
Smaller newborns are associated with mothers who are small in size, as well as those of certain racial and genetic backgrounds. These babies are not at higher risk for IUGR.
Significant morbidity has been found to exist in pregnancies with an amniotic fluid index value of less than 5 cm.
IUGR can also be caused by a problem with the mother’s thyroid gland or diabetes. If the mother has high blood pressure, pregnant with multiples can also cause IUGR.
What are the symptoms of intrauterine growth restriction?
The most common symptom of intrauterine growth restriction is small size for gestational age. This means that the baby’s weight is below the tenth percentile for babies of the same gestational age.
Other symptoms may include a small head circumference and abnormal fetal heart rate. If you are pregnant and have any of these symptoms, you should talk to your doctor.
How is intrauterine growth restriction diagnosed in pregnant women?
IUGR is usually diagnosed during a routine ultrasound. The doctor will measure the fetus and compare it to other babies at the same gestational age. During pregnancy, doctors also check the baby’s growth by measuring the mother’s uterine fundal height.
The doctor may also order a special ultrasound called a biophysical profile. This ultrasound measures the baby’s heart rate, breathing, blood flow, and movement.
Doppler ultrasound checks the blood flow to the placenta and through the umbilical cord to the baby. Decreased blood flow may mean your baby has FGR. You may have repeat ultrasound exams, Doppler studies, and other tests. Ultrasonographic measurement of the fetal abdominal circumference is also helpful in assessing the baby’s growth.
The doctor may also check the mother’s blood pressure, urine, and blood sugar levels, and may perform amniocentesis to look for genetic causes of IUGR.
During the amniocentesis test, a needle is put through your skin into your uterus. A few teaspoons of amniotic fluid are withdrawn into the needle. The fluid is tested to see if it shows the cause of the FGR and to evaluate fetal lung maturity. The amniotic fluid can detect infection and some chromosomal abnormalities that can cause genetic problems.
If testing suggests that the pregnancy is not developing well, your doctor may decide that an early delivery could help. In this case, your doctor may want to induce labor.
How is intrauterine growth restriction treated?
IUGR is usually treated with close monitoring. The doctor will want to see you more often and may do more ultrasounds.
In RCOG guidelines IUGR fetuses should be monitored and delivered using surveillance as a method. During pregnancy, the mother should get one course of prenatal cortisol every 2 months. Umbilical arterial doppler can be the first monitoring system for fetuses as it can help to reduce perinatal morbidity.
If the baby’s health is in danger, the doctor may recommend delivering the baby early. In some cases, the doctor may give the mother steroids to help the baby’s lungs mature.
Most babies with IUGR grow and develop normally after birth. However, they are at higher risk for certain problems, such as cerebral palsy, developmental delays, and heart defects.
If you are pregnant and have any concerns about IUGR, talk to your doctor.
What are the risks of IUGR to both mother and baby?
Intrauterine growth retardation (IUGR) is a condition in which the fetus grows at a slower rate than normal. IUGR can be mild, moderate, or severe. It is a serious condition that can cause problems for both the mother and the baby.
IUGR can lead to several complications for both the mother and baby. Growth-restricted fetuses are more likely to be born prematurely, have a low birth weight, and experience respiratory distress.
IUGR can also lead to an increased risk for
- Birth defects, including heart defects and neural tube defects
- Cesarean delivery
- Hypoxia (lack of oxygen when the baby is born)
- Meconium aspiration is when the baby swallows part of the first bowel movement. This can cause the alveoli to be over-distended, a pneumothorax to occur, and/or the baby can develop bacterial pneumonia
- Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
- Polycythemia (increased number of red blood cells)
Mothers who have IUGR are at an increased risk for preeclampsia, a condition characterized by high blood pressure and protein in the urine. Preeclampsia can be a serious condition for both mother and baby and can lead to complications such as eclampsia, placental abruption, and preterm labor.
If you are pregnant and have IUGR, it is important to talk to your doctor about the risks and how to best manage your pregnancy.
What can pregnant women do to prevent IUGR from occurring during their pregnancies?
There are a few things that pregnant women can do to help prevent intrauterine growth restriction from occurring during their pregnancies.
One of the most important things that pregnant women can do is to make sure that they eat healthy foods and get enough protein in their diet. Protein is essential for the development of the fetus and the placenta, and inadequate protein intake can lead to IUGR.
Pregnant women should also make sure to get plenty of rest and avoid stress during their pregnancies. Stress can cause the release of hormones that can interfere with fetal development and lead to IUGR.
Finally, pregnant women should make sure to get regular prenatal care. Prenatal care can help to identify any potential problems with the pregnancy, including IUGR, and can help to ensure that the pregnancy progresses as smoothly as possible.