Fetal growth restriction: current knowledge

Arch Gynecol Obstet. 2017 May;295(5):1061-1077. doi: 10.1007/s00404-017-4341-9. Epub 2017 Mar 11.


Background: Fetal growth restriction (FGR) is a condition that affects 5-10% of pregnancies and is the second most common cause of perinatal mortality. This review presents the most recent knowledge on FGR and focuses on the etiology, classification, prediction, diagnosis, and management of the condition, as well as on its neurological complications.

Methods: The Pubmed, SCOPUS, and Embase databases were searched using the term "fetal growth restriction".

Results: Fetal growth restriction (FGR) may be classified as early or late depending on the time of diagnosis. Early FGR (<32 weeks) is associated with substantial alterations in placental implantation with elevated hypoxia, which requires cardiovascular adaptation. Perinatal morbidity and mortality rates are high. Late FGR (≥32 weeks) presents with slight deficiencies in placentation, which leads to mild hypoxia and requires little cardiovascular adaptation. Perinatal morbidity and mortality rates are lower. The diagnosis of FGR may be clinical; however, an arterial and venous Doppler ultrasound examination is essential for diagnosis and follow-up. There are currently no treatments to control FGR; the time at which pregnancy is interrupted is of vital importance for protecting both the mother and fetus.

Conclusion: Early diagnosis of FGR is very important, because it enables the identification of the etiology of the condition and adequate monitoring of the fetal status, thereby minimizing risks of premature birth and intrauterine hypoxia.

Keywords: Doppler; Fetal growth restriction; Management; Neurological development; Placental insufficiency; Prediction.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Fetal Development
  • Fetal Growth Retardation* / diagnosis
  • Fetal Growth Retardation* / etiology
  • Fetal Growth Retardation* / therapy
  • Fetal Hypoxia
  • Fetus / innervation
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Perinatal Mortality
  • Placenta / physiopathology
  • Placental Insufficiency
  • Placentation
  • Pregnancy
  • Ultrasonography, Prenatal