Condition in which the fetus doesn’t grow as large as he or she should while in the uterus. These babies are small for their gestational age (SGA) and their birth weights are below the 5th percentile. IUGR can be caused by decreased blood flow to the placenta, maternal hypertension, drug use, smoking, poor weight gain, dieting during pregnancy, pre-eclampsia, alcoholism, multiple fetuses, abnormalities of the cord or placenta, prolonged pregnancy, chromosomal abnormalities, or a small placenta.
A baby with IUGR is more likely to have serious health problems and die in the newborn period. Diagnosis can be difficult before delivery, which is why it is important for the expectant mother to be weighed at each prenatal appointment and to receive an abdominal exam estimating the fetal size. The ultrasound is critical to the diagnosis of IUGR. Treatment includes better for the mother through the rest of the pregnancy, bed rest, and sometimes a C-section (these babies don’t tolerate labor well). Delivery before term is also required in some cases as these babies have an increased risk of dying in the uterus before delivery.