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Facts About Intrauterine Growth Restriction (Slow Foetal Growth)

By Sharon Thomas

Pregnancy is one of the crucial phases in the lifetime of a woman. Any woman would want to give birth to a healthy baby and for this several measures are taken. Eating organic foods that are toxin free, drinking lots of water, juices, taking ample amount of rest, and the list goes on.

The lifestyle itself changes for all the good that the mother can provide the baby with. But what if such measures are not taken? Improper nutrition can affect the growth of the baby in the womb, which is not supposed to happen to a developing embryo.

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Consider the situation when the health of the mother is perfect and she can provide the essential nutrients to the baby. Can slow foetal growth occur in such a case? The answer is yes.

The problem is that in slow foetal growth only the cause of improper intake of food can be rectified, while other reasons have to be dealt with timely treatment. Read on to know about the facts of slow foetal growth, which is medically termed as Intrauterine Growth Restriction.


What Is Intrauterine Growth Restriction (IUGR)?

There are some medically set rules where a baby in the womb must measure so and so in order to be a healthy individual. In some cases, the weight appropriate for the time period is not achieved.

This results in IUGR, where the size of the baby is small for the gestational age. It is also referred to as Foetal Growth Restriction (FGR).


What Are The Types Of IUGR?

IUGR is basically of two types - symmetrical or primary and asymmetrical or secondary. Primary IUGR is a case where the body of the baby is in proportion with the internal organs but the weight of the baby falls below than what it must be for the gestational age.

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In secondary IUGR, the size of the head and the brain seems to be correct for the age but the body seems to be smaller than required.


At Which Phase Of The Pregnancy Is It More Likely To Happen?

Generally speaking, IUGR can occur at any stage of the pregnancy - starting from the time of conception up to the third trimester.

The chances of a miscarriage are higher if it happens during the first trimester. Symmetrical IUGR can be detected at any stage of pregnancy, but the asymmetrical IUGR cannot be detected until the third trimester.


Probable Symptoms Of IUGR

The symptoms are just two and the problem is that it is not necessary that the symptoms can be seen in every case of IUGR.

The first symptom is that the carrying mother puts on the required weight as expected. The second symptom is related to the uterus where the size of it is small for the phase of pregnancy.


Reasons For IUGR

The reasons can be any of the ones among the following that are provided below.

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Health of the mother, which includes poor diet, high blood pressure and infections transferred from the mother.

Health of the foetus - Foetus can be affected with problems like unhealthy umbilical cord, low level of amniotic fluid, and a problematic placenta where it does not function properly.

The improper lifestyle of the mother can also be a reason. This includes smoking, consumption of alcohol, intake of drugs, and exposure to chemicals.

Other factors are genetic and chromosomal abnormalities, unusual shape and size of the womb, and chronic illness.


Risks For Babies Diagnosed With IUGR

Babies diagnosed with IUGR can put them at risk both before and after the birth and in some cases, the problems might last life long.

Some of the issues that can happen to babies are:

Low birth weight

Low resistance power

Low blood sugar level

Fluctuating body temperature

Neurological disability

Hypoxia (lack of oxygen)

Increased red blood cells



Diagnosis Of IUGR

Most part of the diagnosis is done by taking an ultrasound scan. In a scan, measurements of the baby are taken. Measurements pertain to age, size, height, and weight of the baby. The level of amniotic fluid can also be measured this way.

Doppler flow is also a part of the ultrasound where the flow of blood in the baby is checked. If anything wrong is sensed with the measurements here, the doctors check for the possibilities of IUGR. The mother will be asked to undergo scans at regular intervals to ensure the safety of the baby.

Other tests include checking the weight of the mother, monitoring the baby's heartbeat, and lab testing the amniotic fluid for chromosomal issues.


Treatment For IUGR

There is no treatment as such that has been developed to treat IUGR. There are only ways to reduce the ill effects on the baby and the mother. The methods adopted mainly depend on the age of the foetus. Early labour is suggested if the gestational age is 34 weeks or more.

If the age is lesser than 34 weeks, regular monitoring is done for foetal well-being and then the baby is delivered through a C-section. For severe cases, where stunted growth is found, the C-section is done at 32 weeks and the baby is kept in the neonatal care where he/she can grow in a better way.

Read more about: baby pregnancy parenting womb foetus
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