Intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) is diagnosed when a fetus is 10% below the average weight for their gestational age. It is a serious condition that needs to be monitored closely by your OB/GYN to ensure your baby gets the nutrients it needs to develop properly.
What causes IUGR?
The cause of IUGR is your baby not getting the oxygen and nutrients it needs to develop normally. There are many causes of oxygen and nutrient deprivation while en utero. The most common causes are:
- Use of cigarettes, alcohol, or drugs during pregnancy.
- Chronic medical conditions of the mother such as hypertension, kidney or heart disease, diabetes, anemia, or autoimmune disease
- Chromosomal abnormalities in the fetus
- Calorie and protein deficiency during pregnancy
- Multiple gestations, such as twins or triples
- Certain medications
- Prolonged high altitude exposure
- Placental abnormalities, such as a detaching placenta. Placenta is what delivers nutrients and oxygen to your baby so if it is not functioning correctly it can cause problems
What are the effects of IUGR?
Babies with IUGR face health risks during pregnancy, labor, and normal development. Because of a lack of oxygen and nutrients, babies with IUGR are at a higher risk of stillbirth.
Babies with IUGR are often more delicate and vaginal delivery can pose serious risks; therefore they are often delivered via cesarean section.
After birth, a growth-restricted baby is more likely to have a weakened immunity, low blood sugar, polycythemia, and jaundice.
The long-term effects of IUGR vary with each child. If an IUGR baby is born prematurely, they are more likely to have developmental and learning disabilities. However, it’s not uncommon for IUGR babies to catch up with their peers once given time to develop outside of the womb.
What will happen if my baby has IUGR?
Your doctor will measure your belly and weight to determine if you and your baby are growing at the right pace. If not, ultrasounds will be performed regularly to monitor the development of your baby. Your doctor will determine what is necessary to protect your baby.
What can I do to prevent IUGR?
It’s important to not smoke, drink, or use drugs when you’re pregnant. Ask your doctor for programs that will help you quit these activities if you’re having a hard time stopping.
Be sure to eat nutritious meals and ensure you’re getting enough calories and protein while pregnant. If you aren’t putting on enough weight, your doctor may also suggest that you abstain from exercising for the duration of our pregnancy.
If you have preexisting health conditions, it’s also important to get those as much under control as you can before getting pregnant.