Fetal Growth Diagnosis and Management among Perinatal Medical Professionals: A Survey of Practice and Literature Review

Fetal Diagn Ther. 2021 Apr 6;1-11. doi: 10.1159/000514504. Online ahead of print.


Introduction: This paper aimed to assess the knowledge of healthcare professionals (obstetric and gynecology residents, specialists, and midwives) in the field of perinatal medicine regarding fetal growth diagnosis and management.

Methods: A questionnaire was created consisting of a set of questions regarding demographic data, methods of growth assessment, and management. It was a handout survey. The results were analyzed with the use of descriptive statistics and χ2 analysis using the program Statistica.

Results: 190 medical professionals have participated in the questionnaire. 86.3% of respondents agreed that pregnancy dating should be modified based on first-trimester ultrasound. 90.9% agreed that III trimester ultrasound has a ±15% margin of error. When asked which growth charts are best fit for assessing growth in a studied population, 10.7% marked standard, 37.4% reference, 26.2% customized, and 26.2% did not know the difference between the three choices. 60.3% stated that they use a growth chart to assess growth and qualify fetuses for monitoring. 70.2% used the 10th centile as a cutoff, 20.1% 5th centile, and 9.7% 3rd centile. Only 40.9% would diagnose fetal growth restriction based on fetal weight only. 28.7% using the 10th centile cutoff, 16.1% 5th centile, and 54.0% 3rd centile. Only a quarter of the respondents were able to name the growth chart or tool that they use for assessment. The most common responses were Yudkin, Hadlock, and online calculators of Fetal Medicina Barcelona and the Fetal Medicine Foundation.

Discussion: A lot of confusion is observed primarily in the aspect of cutoff values for identification, subsequent monitoring, and management of fetal growth restriction. There is a need for extensive training and education in this field and uniform national recommendations.

Keywords: Doppler; Fetal growth restriction; Growth charts; Management; Small gestational age; Survey.