Fetal age: methods of estimation and effects of pathology

Am J Phys Anthropol. 2000 Nov;113(3):305-15. doi: 10.1002/1096-8644(200011)113:3<305::AID-AJPA3>3.0.CO;2-R.


Accurate identification of fetal age is important in a wide variety of circumstances. Seventeen anthropometric and radiographic measurements were taken on fetuses between 15 and 42 weeks of gestational age, both with and without pathologic conditions. A full evaluation including radiographic, karyotypic, gross anatomic, and histologic examination of the fetus and placenta identified 72 individuals as nondysmorphic with no signs of chronic uterovascular insufficiency. These specimens served as the control group. Based on least-squares regressions of this group, age-estimation equations were calculated for all variables. Six models were adequately described by linear equations; the remaining 11 required a quadratic term. Based on standard error of the estimate (S(y:x)), skeletal measures proved the most accurate age estimators. Pathologic conditions were shown to have an influence on age estimation indicated by high levels of inaccuracy and, in some instances, significant bias.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Determination by Skeleton / methods*
  • Anthropometry
  • Bone and Bones / diagnostic imaging
  • Bone and Bones / pathology*
  • Crown-Rump Length
  • Embryonic and Fetal Development*
  • Gestational Age*
  • Humans
  • Maternal Age
  • Regression Analysis