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Frequency and risk factors of fetal malnutrition among liveborn singleton term neonates using a computerised perinatal database, 2000–2006


Dr Özgül Salihoğlu, Kalamış Fener cad. Kalamış apt. B Blok 54/4, Kadıköy, 34726 Istanbul, Turkey. Fax: +9 0212 543 07 09; email:


Aim:  The aim of this study was to determine the frequency, risk factors and anthropometric measurements of fetally malnourished, liveborn singleton term neonates.

Methods:  The computed delivery room data of 11.741 liveborn singleton term neonates was used to compare malnourished and nourished newborns.

Results:  Of the total subjects, 577 (4.9%) were malnourished. There were no differences between the groups with regard to gender distribution, Apgar scores, maternal parity, smoking during pregnancy and type of delivery. Maternal age and neonatal gestational age (GA) were significantly lower in malnourished newborns (P < 0.001). Birthweight (BW), birth length (BL) and head circumference (HC) were significantly lower in the malnourished group compared with well-nourished group (P < 0.001). Mean BW (g) was 2724.7 ± 17.0 in the malnourished group versus 3234.3 ± 3.8 in the well-nourished group; BL (cm) was 47.8 ± 0.1 in malnourished versus 49.5 ± 0.0 in well-nourished neonates; HC (cm) was 33.25 ± 0.1 in the malnourished versus 34.3 ± 0.0 in the well-nourished group. Between the groups, there were significant differences in the ratio of small, appropriate and large for GA (P < 0.001). Of the malnourished newborns, 35.5% were small for GA, 63.3% were appropriate for GA and 1.2% were large for GA.

Conclusion:  Fetal malnutrition (FM) still exists despite the advances in current obstetric care. Neonates of adolescent mothers and of low GA are particularly at risk for FM. The BW, BL and HC of fetally malnourished neonates are lower than that of well-nourished neonates. Like term singleton appropriate and small for GA neonates, term singleton large for GA neonates could also have been fetally malnourished.