Fetal Growth Restriction (FGR), also known as Intrauterine Growth Restriction (IUGR), is a condition in which a fetus does not grow as expected in the womb for its gestational age. It is typically defined by a weight or abdominal circumference below the 10th percentile for gestational age. FGR occurs in up to 10% of pregnancies but is not often discussed.
The condition can manifest in different forms, including early or late onset, symmetric or asymmetric growth restriction, and mild or severe cases. It’s essential to understand that not all small babies are affected by FGR, and some may be constitutionally small without any health issues.
FGR carries various risks and complications, such as perinatal morbidity and mortality, low birth weight, delivery problems, low oxygen levels, infection, low blood sugar, and breathing difficulties. Some studies also suggest potential long-term cognitive development issues and continued growth restrictions.
FGR is typically diagnosed after 20 weeks of pregnancy when healthcare providers measure the fundal height, which is the height measurement of the uterus in centimeters. It is crucial to identify FGR early via ultrasound and other diagnostic tools, as outcomes may depend on the cause.
There are multiple potential causes of FGR, including maternal diseases, fetal conditions, placental dysfunction, infections, lifestyle choices, and genetic factors. Identifying the cause as early as possible can be beneficial for treatment.
Treatment for FGR involves close monitoring throughout pregnancy. Healthcare providers will conduct prenatal investigations to assess the fetus’s growth, monitor blood flow and heart rate, screen for infections, and check for genetic causes. Early induction of labor and neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) care may be necessary in severe cases to provide a more controlled environment for the baby.
After birth, babies with FGR may face some additional challenges, such as feeding issues and minor developmental delays. However, many children with FGR catch up in growth and development by the age of 2, and specialized support may be needed in some cases.
It’s crucial to remember that every FGR case is different, and positive outcomes are possible with the right medical care and support. Early detection and close monitoring can help optimize the outcome of pregnancies affected by FGR.