Fetal growth: a review of terms, concepts and issues relevant to obstetrics
Article first published online: 31 JAN 2013
Copyright © 2012 ISUOG. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Ultrasound in Obstetrics & Gynecology
Volume 41, Issue 2, pages 136–145, February 2013
How to Cite
Mayer, C. and Joseph, K. S. (2013), Fetal growth: a review of terms, concepts and issues relevant to obstetrics. Ultrasound Obstet Gynecol, 41: 136–145. doi: 10.1002/uog.11204
- Issue published online: 31 JAN 2013
- Article first published online: 31 JAN 2013
- Accepted manuscript online: 30 MAY 2012 10:58AM EST
- Manuscript Accepted: 7 MAY 2012
- fetal growth;
- fetal growth restriction;
- risk factors
The perinatal literature includes several potentially confusing and controversial terms and concepts related to fetal size and growth. This article discusses fetal growth from an obstetric perspective and addresses various issues including the physiologic mechanisms that determine fetal growth trajectories, known risk factors for abnormal fetal growth, diagnostic and prognostic issues related to restricted and excessive growth and temporal trends in fetal growth. Also addressed are distinctions between fetal growth ‘standards’ and fetal growth ‘references’, and between fetal growth charts based on estimated fetal weight vs those based on birth weight. Other concepts discussed include the incidence of fetal growth restriction in pregnancy (does the frequency of fetal growth restriction increase or decrease with increasing gestation?), the obstetric implications of studies showing associations between fetal growth and adult chronic illnesses (such as coronary heart disease) and the need for customizing fetal growth standards.