Paediatric consequences of fetal growth restriction

Semin Fetal Neonatal Med. 2004 Oct;9(5):411-8. doi: 10.1016/j.siny.2004.03.005.


The evidence for outcome following fetal growth restriction (FGR) has previously been inferred from studies, based on babies who were born small for gestational age (SGA). Great care is required when evaluating studies in this area due to a number of potential confounders. It does appear, however, that FGR is associated with an increased risk of poor neurological outcome. This includes an increased risk of cerebral palsy in babies greater than 32 weeks' gestation. Below 32 weeks, the effects of prematurity appear to negate the effects of FGR. FGR is also associated with cognitive deficit and behaviour problems. Babies with poor prenatal head growth appear to have a worse cognitive outcome. However, the role of 'fetal brain sparing' remains unclear, as impaired cognitive outcome is still evident in babies with appropriate head growth. Recent studies, which have identified FGR more accurately using fetal growth standards, have found an increased incidence of major intracranial injury and other adverse neonatal outcomes, which had previously been thought to occur less frequently in FGR babies. FGR is also associated with poor postnatal growth. The majority of children with FGR demonstrate catch-up growth in the first 2 years of life. Children who fail to demonstrate catch-up growth have a high risk of long-term growth problems. There is evidence of impaired growth hormone activity in some children with FGR who have persistent poor growth in the postnatal period.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cerebral Palsy / etiology*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Developmental Disabilities / etiology
  • Female
  • Fetal Growth Retardation / complications*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Small for Gestational Age / growth & development
  • Mental Disorders / etiology
  • Nervous System Diseases / etiology
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Outcome