What is fetal growth restriction (FGR)?
Fetal growth restriction (FGR) may be a condition during which an unborn baby (fetus) is smaller than expected for the amount of weeks of pregnancy (gestational age). It is often described as an estimated weight less than the 10th percentile. This means that the baby weighs less than 9 out of 10 babies of the same gestational age. Newborn babies with FGR could also be called “small for fetal age.”
FGR can begin at any time during pregnancy. With FGR, the baby does not grow well. FGR may affect the general size of the baby and therefore the growth of organs, tissues, and cells. This can cause many problems. But many newborns that are small may just be small. They may not have any problems.
What causes FGR?
Many things increase the danger for FGR. These include problems with the placenta or umbilical cord. The placenta may not attach well. Or the blood flow through the umbilical cord may be limited. Factors in both the mother and therefore the baby may cause FGR.
Factors within the mother which will cause FGR include:
Ø High blood pressure or other heart and blood vessel disease
Ø Too few red blood cells (anemia)
Ø Long-term lung or kidney conditions
Ø Autoimmune conditions such as lupus
Ø Very low weight
Ø A large amount of excess weight (obese)
Ø Poor nutrition or weight gain
Ø Alcohol or drug use
Ø Cigarette smoking
Factors within the baby which will cause FGR include:
Ø Being one of a twin or triplets
Ø Birth defects, such as heart defects
Ø Problem with genes or chromosomes
What are the symptoms of FGR?
A pregnant woman doesn’t have symptoms of FGR. But a baby with FGR may have certain signs after birth, such as:
Ø Low birth weight
Ø Low blood sugar levels
Ø Lower body temperature
Ø High level of red blood cells
Ø Trouble fighting infections
What are possible complications of FGR?
FGR can cause many serious complications. Your baby may have to be delivered early and stay within the hospital. Your baby may have trouble breathing, infections, and other problems. Stillbirths and death may occur. As your child grows, he or she will be at higher risk for heart and blood vessel problems.
How can FGR be prevented?
FGR can happen in any pregnancy. But some factors, like cigarette smoking or alcohol or medicine use, increase the risk for FGR. Regular and early prenatal care and a healthy diet and steady weight gain help to stop FGR and other problems.
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