Impact of a Hybrid Model of Prenatal Care on the Diagnosis of Fetal Growth Restriction

Am J Perinatol. 2022 Nov;39(15):1605-1613. doi: 10.1055/a-1877-8478. Epub 2022 Jun 16.


Objective: Fetal growth restriction (FGR) is associated with poor neonatal outcomes and stillbirth, and screening via fundal height or ultrasound is routinely performed. During the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, we developed a hybrid model of prenatal care which decreased the frequency of in-person visits and incorporated telemedicine visits. We sought to determine if prenatal FGR diagnoses decreased with this hybrid model compared with routine prenatal care.

Study design: This was a retrospective cohort study of singleton nonanomalous neonates with birth weights <10th percentile at term. The "routine care" group was consisted of those who born between April and July 2019 with in-person prenatal care, and the "hybrid care" group was consisted of those who born between April and July 2020 with both in-person and telemedicine prenatal cares at a collaborative academic practice. The primary outcome was the rate of diagnosis of small for gestational age (SGA) as defined as infant birth weight <10th percentile without a prenatal diagnosis of FGR. The secondary outcome was timing of diagnosis of FGR.

Results: Overall, 1,345 and 1,296 women gave birth in the routine and hybrid groups, respectively. The number of in-person prenatal care visits decreased from 15,024 in the routine period to 7,727 in the hybrid period; 3,265 telemedicine visits occurred during the hybrid period. The total number of prenatal patients remained relatively stable at 3,993 and 3,753 between periods. Third trimester ultrasounds decreased from 2,929 to 2,014 between periods. Birth weights <10 percentile occurred in 115 (8.6%) births during the routine period and 79 (6.1%) births during the hybrid period. Of 115, 44 (38.3%) cases were prenatally diagnosed with FGR in the routine versus 28 of 79 (35.4%) in the hybrid group (p = 0.76). Median gestational age at diagnosis did not vary between groups (36 vs. 37 weeks, p = 0.44).

Conclusion: A hybrid prenatal care model did not alter the detection of FGR. Future efforts should further explore the benefits of incorporating telemedicine into prenatal care.

Key points: · Telemedicine visits can provide comprehensive prenatal care.. · FGR was diagnosed equally with hybrid versus routine prenatal care.. · FGR diagnosis was not delayed with hybrid care..

MeSH terms

  • Birth Weight
  • COVID-19* / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Fetal Growth Retardation* / diagnostic imaging
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Small for Gestational Age
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Care
  • Prenatal Diagnosis
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Ultrasonography, Prenatal