Obstetric management of intrauterine growth restriction

Best Pract Res Clin Obstet Gynaecol. 2009 Dec;23(6):857-70. doi: 10.1016/j.bpobgyn.2009.08.011. Epub 2009 Oct 24.


The aim of obstetric management is to identify growth-restricted foetuses at risk of severe intrauterine hypoxia, to monitor their health and to deliver when the adverse outcome is imminent. After 30-32 gestational weeks, a Doppler finding of absent or reverse end-diastolic flow in the umbilical artery of a small-for-gestational age foetus is in itself an indication for delivery. In very preterm foetuses, the intrauterine risks have to be balanced against the risk of prematurity. All available diagnostic information (e.g., Doppler velocimetry of umbilical artery, foetal central arteries and veins and of maternal uterine arteries; foetal heart rate with computerised analysis of short-term variability; amniotic fluid amount; and foetal gestational age-related weight) should be collected to support the timing of delivery. If possible, the delivery should optimally take place before the onset of late signs of foetal hypoxia (pathological foetal heart rate pattern, severely abnormal ductus venosus blood velocity waveform, pulsations in the umbilical vein).

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amniotic Fluid
  • Blood Flow Velocity / physiology
  • Cardiotocography
  • Female
  • Fetal Development / physiology
  • Fetal Growth Retardation / diagnosis
  • Fetal Growth Retardation / therapy*
  • Fetal Movement / physiology
  • Fetus / blood supply
  • Humans
  • Laser-Doppler Flowmetry
  • Middle Cerebral Artery / embryology
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Care / methods*
  • Ultrasonography, Doppler
  • Ultrasonography, Prenatal
  • Umbilical Arteries / physiology
  • Umbilical Veins / physiology
  • Uterine Artery / physiology