What is intrauterine growth retardation, and why does it matter?
Intrauterine growth retardation (IUGR) is a condition where the fetus experiences malnutrition in the mother's womb, putting them at a higher risk of illness and death compared to other newborns. Couples planning to conceive should be aware of this and take preventive measures to minimize fetal growth restriction.
1. Understanding Intrauterine Growth RestrictionIUGR encompasses factors like fetal weight and growth during examinations. To determine if a fetus is genuinely lagging or has stopped growing, measurements of size and weight should be taken at least twice, with a one-week gap between visits. The criteria for IUGR vary among authors and research groups but generally fall below the 10th and 5th percentile lines.
2. Mothers at Risk of Intrauterine Growth RetardationCertain factors increase the likelihood of IUGR:
- History of delivering a child with IUGR.
- Inadequate maternal weight gain.
- Smaller uterine height compared to gestational age.
- Maternal conditions like high blood pressure, kidney disease, diabetes, and red blood cell disorders.
- Habits such as smoking, alcoholism, and substance abuse.
- Carrying multiple fetuses (twins, triplets, etc.).
- Infections or genetic disorders.
- Exposure to toxic chemicals.
3. Consequences of Intrauterine Growth RetardationIUGR can lead to various complications:
- Premature birth.
- Higher postnatal morbidity and mortality rates compared to normal births.
- Possible occurrence of oligohydramnios, resulting in low amniotic fluid that may compress the umbilical cord, posing a threat to the fetus's life.
- Increased susceptibility to disorders like growth retardation, early puberty, metabolic issues (diabetes, obesity), vascular endothelial damage, and kidney damage.
4. Preventive Measures for Intrauterine Growth RetardationTo limit the risk of IUGR, prospective parents should:
- Seek genetic counseling before conception.
- Avoid alcohol consumption and exposure to cigarette smoke during pregnancy.
- Maintain a well-balanced diet rich in essential vitamins and minerals.
- Consider low-dose aspirin prophylaxis from the 15th week of pregnancy if IUGR is linked to maternal circulation issues.