Estimating fetal weight in the management of macrosomia

Obstet Gynecol Surv. 2000 Apr;55(4):229-39. doi: 10.1097/00006254-200004000-00022.


The purpose of this review is to examine the evidence that, including estimates of fetal macrosomia in patient care, will decrease adverse perinatal outcomes. A literature search for the years 1980 to 1999 was used. Shoulder dystocia and brachial plexus injuries occur more often in macrosomic than in non-macrosomic neonates. However, 26 to 58 percent of shoulder dystocias and 24 to 44 percent of brachial plexus injuries occur to babies weighing less than 4000 gm. Persistence of impairment is extremely rare. Neither historical nor clinical factors have strong positive predictive values for macrosomia. From 15 to 81 percent of the babies predicted to be macrosomic are confirmed by birth weight. Of babies determined to be macrosomic at birth, only 50 to 100 percent were successfully predicted. Shoulder dystocia and brachial plexus injuries are unpredictable events. Available evidence suggests that planned interventions based on estimates of fetal weight do not reduce the incidence of shoulder dystocia and do not decrease adverse outcomes attributable to fetal macrosomia.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Birth Injuries / etiology
  • Birth Injuries / prevention & control
  • Birth Weight*
  • Brachial Plexus / injuries
  • Dystocia / etiology
  • Dystocia / prevention & control
  • Female
  • Fetal Macrosomia / complications*
  • Fetal Macrosomia / diagnosis
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Obstetrics / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Obstetrics / standards
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Outcome
  • Prenatal Diagnosis
  • Risk Factors
  • Shoulder
  • Ultrasonography, Prenatal