One of the commonest causes of concern in a pregnancy is the growth and development of the baby inside the womb. If the fetus is diagnosed as small in size or if it records a slow growth and is below 10th percentile of approximate gestational age, then it is said to be the case of fetal growth retardation.
This condition in medical terms is also known as Intrauterine Growth Retardation or IUGR. This is usually detected after the 30th week of pregnancy in the third trimester.
Diagnosis And Causes Of Fetal Growth Retardation:
Fetal growth retardation can occur due to various reasons. Primary reason for a slow fetal growth may be the lack of nutrition supply to the fetus. This often happens due to placenta related problems. If the placenta is short or low lying it may restrict the nutrition supply to the fetus, resulting in growth restriction.
Other reasons could be multiple pregnancies or presence of twins or triplets inside the womb, which poses difficulty in growth and development of the fetus properly. Other factors may be genetic, poor diet or excess intake of alcohol or tobacco, which may lead to restricted growth of the fetus.
Diagnosis of fetal growth restriction can be made through physical examination followed by an ultrasound test. If during the physical examination the doctor finds the head or the fundal height of the baby smaller than usual, she may prescribe a test and ultrasosnography to confirm the doubts.
Treatment Of Fetal Growth Retardation:
The moment IUGR or the growth restriction is confirmed the doctor might administer a Non-stress test to know the well being of the baby. This is done to assess the fetal status including the movements, heart beat and the activity of the fetus.
The continuous monitoring takes place till you deliver the baby safely. An active fetus will show positive signs of accelerated heart beats with each movement in the womb.
Next step would be to resolve any placenta related problem that might have caused IUGR.However at this stage no problem can be treated but the risk to the fetus can be minimized with plenty of medicines and tests.
Also it becomes necessary to check the status of fetal lung maturity to assess whether an early labor would be safe and the child is able to breathe properly after she comes out.
If the reason for growth restriction is a low level of Amniotic fluid then you might be advised to take plenty of rest and have lots of fluid to increase the level of amniotic fluid in the uterus. Low amniotic fluid levels are one of the major causes of IUGR.
All the above steps are valid and necessary till the gestational age of 34 weeks.If the fetus crosses the 35th week of age, the doctors might suggest an early labor or a C-section to deliver the baby early so that a proper nutrition can be provided to her once she comes out.
In most of the cases IUGR babies show a rapid growth after an early delivery when they get ample nutrition and they are no longer dependent on placental nutrition.