[Decreased fetal movements in the third trimester: what to do?]

Gynecol Obstet Fertil. 2005 Nov;33(11):861-9. doi: 10.1016/j.gyobfe.2005.07.041. Epub 2005 Oct 21.
[Article in French]


Objective: To appreciate at the end of pregnancy, in a low-risk pregnant population, the interest of a screening for fetal well-being in case of decreased fetal movements. To define the most adapted screening.

Patients and methods: Retrospective study over a complete year of the patients having consulted in the same center for decreased fetal movements and subjected to the same screening for fetal activity in hospitalization during 48 hours. This screening included a study of fetal heart rate repeated three times a day, a fetal biophysical profile scoring, an umbilical artery Doppler, a Kleihauer-Betke testing, and an amnioscopy.

Results: One hundred and sixty patients were identified, representing 6.1% of pregnancies followed in the center. There was no relation between the age, the parity of the patients and the probability to consult for a decrease of fetal movements. Nevertheless the antecedents of pathological pregnancy or fetal malformation were frequent. Twenty-one percent of the deliveries were induced for a global rate of 18% in the center. Twenty-eight percent of the patients had a cesarean section for a global rate of 22.8%. Five percent of fetuses were at risk for prenatal asphyxia on the data of the screening. Fetal heart rate was abnormal in 3.75% of cases, fetal biophysical profile score pathological in 3.1% of cases. Just one umbilical Doppler was highly pathological. No meconium amniotic fluid was found. Two Kleihauer-Betke tests were disturbing. At the time of delivery, 28% of fetuses presented a funicular abnormality, 4.3% a severe growth restriction, 4.3% a malformation. One child only had an anemia. There was no perinatal mortality.

Discussion and conclusion: Screening for fetal vitality remains necessary in case of decreased fetal movements. It has to associate the study of fetal heart rate and the fetal biophysical profile with a Kleihauer-Betke testing. In a low-risk pregnant population, the study of fetal Doppler velocimetry is not profitable. Amnioscopy presents not enough interest. It is necessary to insist with the patients on the necessity of consulting in case of decreased fetal movements even in the approach of the term.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cesarean Section
  • Female
  • Fetal Movement*
  • Fetoscopy
  • Fetus / physiology
  • Gestational Age*
  • Heart Rate, Fetal
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Labor, Induced
  • Pregnancy
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Ultrasonography
  • Umbilical Arteries / diagnostic imaging