A systematic review and critical evaluation of quality of clinical practice guidelines on fetal growth restriction

J Perinat Med. 2023 Mar 29. doi: 10.1515/jpm-2022-0590. Online ahead of print.


Introduction: To systematically identify and critically assess the quality of clinical practice guidelines (CPGs) on management fetal growth restriction (FGR).

Content: Medline, Embase, Google Scholar, Scopus and ISI Web of Science databases were searched to identify all relevant CPGs on FGR.

Summary: Diagnostic criteria of FGR, recommended growth charts, recommendation for detailed anatomical assessment and invasive testing, frequency of fetal growth scans, fetal monitoring, hospital admission, drugs administrations, timing at delivery, induction of labor, postnatal assessment and placental histopathological were assessed. Quality assessment was evaluated by AGREE II tool. Twelve CPGs were included. Twenty-five percent (3/12) of CPS adopted the recently published Delphi consensus, 58.3% (7/12) an estimated fetal weight (EFW)/abdominal circumference (AC) EFW/AC <10th percentile, 8.3% (1/12) an EFW/AC <5th percentile while one CPG defined FGR as an arrest of growth or a shift in its rate measured longitudinally. Fifty percent (6/12) of CPGs recommended the use of customized growth charts to assess fetal growth. Regarding the frequency of Doppler assessment, in case of absent or reversed end-diastolic flow in the umbilical artery 8.3% (1/12) CPGs recommended assessment every 24-48, 16.7% (2/12) every 48-72 h, 1 CPG generically recommended assessment 1-2 times per week, while 25 (3/12) did not specifically report the frequency of assessment. Only 3 CPGs reported recommendation on the type of Induction of Labor to adopt. The AGREE II standardized domain scores for the first overall assessment (OA1) had a mean of 50%.

Outlook: There is significant heterogeneity in the management of pregnancies complicated by FGR in published CPGs.

Keywords: clinical practice guidelines; fetal growth restriction; small for gestational age.

Publication types

  • Review