Do you love your glass of drink every evening and find it difficult to give up the habit during your pregnancy? Are you pregnant but dread piling on those extra pounds? Well, if you can relate to the above situations reading this post is a must!
Following the dos and don’ts for nine months can make you feel deprived and even frustrated at times! However, most expecting mothers make these little sacrifices every day with a smile as they look forward to holding their little bundle of joy in their arms soon. Do you know any laxity on your part while expecting can take a toll on the development of your baby? Go ahead and read the article to know more about slow fetal growth.
What Is Slow Fetal Growth?
Slow fetal growth or intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) is a term that denotes poor health of the baby while in the womb. In fact, 60% of the total neonatal deaths worldwide may be due to low birth weight, a direct outcome of slow growth of fetus. (1)
What Are The Causes Of Slow Fetal Growth?
There are several possible causes of slow growing fetus including the following:
- The unborn baby may not be able to get adequate oxygen and nutrition from the placenta. It may be due to several reasons like- multiple pregnancies (twins, triplets, etc.), preeclampsia or placental problems. It can also be due to staying at a high altitude.
- Congenital and chromosomal abnormalities may also affect the growth of the fetus.
- During pregnancy, if the mother suffers from infections like- cytomegalovirus, rubella, syphilis or toxoplasmosis can slacken the slow fetal development.
- Poor lifestyle habits during pregnancy like nutritional deficiency, drug abuse, smoking habit or alcohol addiction can increase the chances of slow fetal growth. Other risk factors that directly affect the mother’s health and increase the risk of intrauterine growth restriction for the baby include kidney dysfunction, high blood pressure, clotting disorders, and heart diseases. (2)
- Maternal weight of less than 100 pounds may decrease the rate of fetal growth and lead to a low birth weight of the newborn.
- Abnormalities in the umbilical cord and low levels of amniotic fluid could also increase the risk of slow fetal growth. (3)
A baby is also prone to suffer from intrauterine growth restriction in the following cases:
- If the mother suffered from lupus earlier.
- If the mother has a history of having small babies in earlier pregnancies.
- If it is a case of teen pregnancy. (4)
Steps To Diagnose Slow Fetal Growth:
Not all babies who are small suffer from intrauterine growth restriction, which is why accurate diagnosis is necessary. The first step is to determine the baby’s gestational age accurately. The doctor may examine a baby’s growth rate and compare it with the normal growth rate of babies of the same gestational age. If the growth rate of the baby is not satisfactory, he may monitor the progress of the pregnancy to identify the cause of slow fetal development.
Ultrasounds and the measurement of uterine fundal height can also help determine the baby’s growth accurately. Ultrasound scans also help detect other issues such as placental problems and low amniotic fluid levels.
The doctor may advise you to undergo other tests such as infection screening, heart rate tracking and amniocentesis to confirm IUGR and identify its cause. (5)
Treatment For Slow Fetal Growth:
Treatment for slow fetal growth varies from one pregnancy to another as it depends largely on the stage of pregnancy and the cause of the problem. The doctor may recommend an early induced delivery if the gestational age is more than 34 weeks.
If the gestational age is less than 34 weeks, the doctor may advise continuous monitoring of the amniotic fluid and fetal development until 34 weeks and beyond. The gynecologist may advise complete bed rest and consulting a nutritionist. (6)
Remember, intake of a balanced diet and following a healthy lifestyle during your pregnancy can help you prevent slow fetal growth to a large extent. (7)
Did your baby suffer from IUGR? What steps did your gynecologist take? Please, share your experience and advice with other moms here.
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