Intrauterine growth retardation (IUGR) is the condition in which the baby appears with smaller weights than expected.
If an ultrasound examination signifies that the baby weight is below the 10th percentile of their gestation age, then the condition is called as intrauterine growth retardation.
This condition is also called as small for gestational age or fetal growth restriction.
There are basically two types of intrauterine growth retardations: one is primary or symmetric IUGR and the other is secondary or asymmetric IUGR.
Primary or symmetric IUGR is a condition in which all the internal organs are decreased in size. This condition can appear in 20-25% of all the cases of IUGR.
Secondary or asymmetric IUGR is a condition in which the brain and head of the baby are in normal size but the abdomen is smaller. Usually, this condition is not clear until the third trimester.
Intrauterine growth retardation is due to the babies not getting enough nutrition. This is because of various conditions in the mother. They can be:
- Heart disease
- Multiple pregnancies
- Eclampsia or preeclampsia
- Placenta problems
- Advanced diabetes
- Chronic kidney disease
Uterus and placental factors:
- Chromosomal or congenital abnormalities
- Infections that you encounter during pregnancy that have an effect on the fetus like toxoplasmosis, syphilis, rubella and cytomegalovirus
- Placental abruption
- Placenta previa
Risk factors in the mother:
- Drug addiction
- Alcohol abuse
- Heart disease
- Poor nutrition
- High blood pressure
A pregnant lady can be infected with IUGR at any stage. Early onset IUGR results with various chromosomal abnormalities, placenta problems, or maternal disease. Late onset IUGR is due to some other problems.
There are various concerns related to intrauterine growth retardation during birth such as:
- Low apgar scores
- Difficulty in maintaining normal body temperature
- Decreased oxygen levels
- Meconium aspiration
- High risk of cesarean delivery
- Hyperviscosity (reduced blood flow due to the high number of red blood cells)
- High risk of neurological and motor disabilities
- High risk of hypoxia
Severe intrauterine growth retardation results in stillbirth. This condition can also cause long-term growth problems in your babies.
The treatment for intrauterine growth retardation remains problematic. Basically, the treatment will depend upon your pregnancy stage.
- If you are 34 weeks pregnant woman or greater, then health care provider recommends you to go for early delivery.
- If your pregnancy is less than 34 weeks, then the health care provider recommends you to continue until 34 weeks. During this time, fetal wellbeing and the amount of amniotic fluid will be monitored. If both of these cannot show good result, then an immediate delivery is recommended. If your health care provider suggests delivery before 34 weeks of pregnancy, then you will undergo amniocentesis in order to evaluate fetal lung maturity.
Even a healthy mother can also be affected with intrauterine growth retardation. Usually, the treatment consists of proper nutrition, sufficient bed rest or immediate delivery.