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Pregnancy and Childbirth: Intrauterine Growth Restriction (IUGR)

Intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR), is when a baby in the womb is measuring smaller than normal. This often means the baby is not growing at a normal rate.

Cross section of pregnant woman's pelvis showing baby developing in uterus. Baby is small.

Causes of IUGR

IUGR results when a baby does not get enough oxygen and nutrition in the womb. There are many different causes of IUGR. One possible cause is certain health problems in the mother. These include high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, or kidney disease. Another possible cause is a genetic disorder in the baby. IUGR is more likely if the mother smokes, drinks, or abuses drugs. And IUGR is common when the mother is pregnant with more than one baby.

Diagnosing IUGR

During routine visits, you and your baby are closely monitored. This is done with ultrasound tests and measurement of the baby’s heart rate with non-stress tests (NST). Also, the height of your uterus (fundal height) is measured. A baby with IUGR will have smaller ultrasound and fundal height measurements. Doppler ultrasound can help confirm IUGR. To look for a genetic problem or infection, amniocentesis may be done. This tests a sample of the fluid taken from around the baby (amniotic fluid).

Treating IUGR

The growth of a baby with IUGR will continue to be closely monitored. Any treatment depends on the cause. If the mother smokes, drinks, or uses drugs, stopping is essential. In other cases, treatments may include:

  • Bed rest. This helps increase blood flow to the placenta.

  • Medications. These treat health problems such as high blood pressure.

  • Early delivery of the baby. This may be needed if the baby’s health is danger.

Your health care provider can discuss the best treatment for you and your baby.

Long-Term Concerns

A baby diagnosed with IUGR may have health problems after birth. These include trouble fighting infections or keeping a normal body temperature. With treatment and close follow-up, babies may catch up in growth. In some cases, babies have long-term health problems. Your health care provider can tell you more.

Author: StayWell Custom Communications
Last Annual Review Date: 9/18/2014
Copyright © The StayWell Company, LLC. except where otherwise noted.
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