Suspicion and treatment of the macrosomic fetus: a review

Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2005 Aug;193(2):332-46. doi: 10.1016/j.ajog.2004.12.020.


Objective: To review the prevalence of and our ability to identify macrosomic (birthweight >4000 g) fetuses. Additionally, based on the current evidence, propose an algorithm for treatment of suspected macrosomia.

Study design: A review.

Results: According to the National Vital Statistics, in the United States, the prevalence of newborns weighing at least 4000 g has decreased by 10% in seven years (10.2% in 1996 and 9.2% in 2002) and 19% for newborns with weights >5000 g (0.16% and 0.13%, respectively). Bayesian calculations indicates that the posttest probability of detecting a macrosomic fetus in an uncomplicated pregnancy is variable, ranging from 15% to 79% with sonographic estimates of birth weight, and 40 to 52% with clinical estimates. Among diabetic patients the post-test probability of identifying a newborn weighing >4000 g clinically and sonographically is over 60%. Among uncomplicated pregnancies, there is sufficient evidence that suspected macrosomia is not an indication for induction or for primary cesarean delivery. For pregnancies complicated by diabetes, with a prior cesarean delivery or shoulder dystocia, delivery of a macrosomic fetus increases the rate of complications, but there is insufficient evidence about the threshold of estimated fetal weight that should prompt cesarean delivery.

Conclusion: Due to the inaccuracies, among uncomplicated pregnancies suspicion of macrosomia is not an indication for induction or for primary cesarean delivery.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Birth Injuries / etiology
  • Cesarean Section
  • Dystocia / etiology
  • Female
  • Fetal Macrosomia / complications
  • Fetal Macrosomia / diagnosis*
  • Fetal Macrosomia / diagnostic imaging
  • Fetal Macrosomia / epidemiology*
  • Fetal Macrosomia / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Labor, Induced
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Outcome
  • Pregnancy in Diabetics / complications
  • Prevalence
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Ultrasonography
  • United States