Estimation of fetal weight: reference range at 20-36 weeks' gestation and comparison with actual birth-weight reference range

Ultrasound Obstet Gynecol. 2007 May;29(5):550-5. doi: 10.1002/uog.4019.


Objectives: To formulate reference charts and equations for estimated fetal weight (EFW) from a large sample of fetuses and to compare these charts and equations with those obtained for birth weight during the same study period and in the same single health authority.

Methods: Biometric data were obtained at 20-36 weeks' gestation from routine screening examinations spanning 4 years. Exclusion criteria were a known abnormal karyotype or congenital malformation and multiple pregnancy. No data were excluded on the basis of abnormal biometry. EFW was calculated based on Hadlock's formula. We used a polynomial regression approach (mean and SD model) to compute a new reference chart for EFW. This chart was compared with that of birth weight at 25-36 weeks' gestation during the same study period and in the same health authority.

Results: 18,959 fetuses were included in the study. New charts and equations for Z-score calculations at 20-36 weeks' gestation are reported. Comparison with the birth-weight chart showed that the EFW was noticeably larger at 25-36 weeks' gestation. At 28-32 weeks' gestation, the 50th centile for birth weight compared approximately with the 10th centile for EFW.

Conclusion: We present new reference charts and equations for EFW. EFW is computed throughout gestation based on measurements in healthy fetuses. However, before full term, birth-weight charts reflect a significant proportion of growth-restricted fetuses that deliver prematurely. We provide additional evidence that comparing EFW with birth-weight charts is misleading.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anthropometry / methods
  • Birth Weight / physiology*
  • Female
  • Fetal Weight / physiology*
  • Fetus / anatomy & histology
  • Gestational Age*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Care / methods
  • Reference Values
  • Sex Factors
  • Ultrasonography, Prenatal