Fetal Growth Restriction Before and After Birth

Am Fam Physician. 2021 Nov 1;104(5):486-492.


Fetal growth restriction, previously called intrauterine growth restriction, is a condition in which a fetus does not achieve its full growth potential during pregnancy. Early detection and management of fetal growth restriction are essential because it has significant clinical implications in childhood. It is diagnosed by estimated fetal weight or abdominal circumference below the 10th percentile on formal ultrasonography. Early-onset fetal growth restriction is diagnosed before 32 weeks' gestation and has a higher risk of adverse fetal outcomes. There are no evidence-based measures for preventing fetal growth restriction; however, aspirin used for the prevention of preeclampsia in high-risk pregnancies may reduce the likelihood of developing it. Timing of delivery for pregnancies affected by growth restriction must be adjusted based on the risks of premature birth and ongoing gestation, and it is best determined in consultation with maternal-fetal medicine specialists. Neonates affected by fetal growth restriction are at risk of feeding difficulties, glucose instability, temperature instability, and jaundice. As these children age, they are at risk of abnormal growth patterns, as well as later cardiac, metabolic, neurodevelopmental, reproductive, and psychiatric disorders.

MeSH terms

  • Early Diagnosis
  • Female
  • Fetal Growth Retardation* / diagnosis
  • Fetal Growth Retardation* / therapy
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Newborn, Diseases / etiology
  • Infant, Newborn, Diseases / prevention & control
  • Infant, Small for Gestational Age / growth & development
  • Perinatology / methods
  • Pregnancy
  • Premature Birth / prevention & control*
  • Prenatal Care / methods*
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects* / classification
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects* / prevention & control
  • Preventive Health Services / methods
  • Risk Adjustment / methods
  • Ultrasonography, Prenatal / methods*