Infant neurodevelopment following fetal growth restriction: relationship with antepartum surveillance parameters

Ultrasound Obstet Gynecol. 2009 Jan;33(1):44-50. doi: 10.1002/uog.6286.


Objectives: To evaluate the relationship between fetal Doppler parameters, biophysical profile score (BPP) and neurodevelopmental delay at 2 years of corrected age in infants who had been growth-restricted in utero.

Methods: This was a prospective observational study including 113 pregnancies complicated by intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) (abdominal circumference<5th percentile and elevated umbilical artery (UA) pulsatility index). The relationships of UA, middle cerebral artery and ductus venosus (DV) Doppler features, BPP, birth acidemia (artery pH<7.0+/or base deficit>12), gestational age at delivery, birth weight and neonatal morbidity (i.e. bronchopulmonary dysplasia, >Grade 2 intraventricular hemorrhage, or necrotizing enterocolitis) with a 2-year neurodevelopmental delay were evaluated. Best Beginnings Developmental Screen, Bayley Scale of Infant Development II (BSID) and Clinical Adaptive/Clinical Linguistic Auditory Milestone Stage were used. BSID<70, cerebral palsy, abnormal tone, hearing loss and/or blindness defined neurodevelopmental delay.

Results: Seventy-two of the 113 pregnancies completed assessment; there were 10 stillbirths, 19 neonatal deaths, three infant deaths and nine pregnancies with no follow-up. Twenty fetuses (27.8%) had UA reversed end-diastolic velocity (REDV), 34 (47.2%) abnormal DV Doppler features and 31 (43.1%) an abnormal BPP. Median gestational age at delivery and birth weight were 30.4 weeks and 933 g, respectively. Twelve infants had acidemia and 28 neonatal morbidity. There were 38 (52.8%) infants with neurodevelopmental delay, including 37 (51.4%) with abnormal tone, 20 (27.8%) with speech delay, 23 (31.9%) with an abnormal neurological examination, eight (11.1%) with a hearing deficit and six (8.3%) with cerebral palsy. Gestational age at delivery was associated with cerebral palsy (r2=0.52, P<0.0001; 92% sensitivity and 83% specificity for delivery at <27 weeks). UA-REDV was associated with global delay (r2=0.31, P=0.006) and birth weight with neurodevelopmental delay (r2=0.54, P<0.0001; 82% sensitivity and 64% specificity for BW<922 g).

Conclusions: Although UA-REDV is an independent contributor to poor neurodevelopment in IUGR no such effect could be demonstrated for abnormal venous Doppler findings or BPP. Gestational age and birth weight remain the predominant factors for poor neurodevelopment in growth-restricted infants.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Blindness / embryology
  • Blood Flow Velocity / physiology
  • Cerebral Palsy / embryology
  • Child, Preschool
  • Developmental Disabilities / etiology*
  • Female
  • Fetal Growth Retardation / diagnostic imaging*
  • Fetal Monitoring
  • Hearing Loss / embryology
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Middle Cerebral Artery / diagnostic imaging
  • Placental Insufficiency / diagnostic imaging*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prospective Studies
  • Ultrasonography, Prenatal
  • Umbilical Arteries / diagnostic imaging*
  • Young Adult