IUGR is when your baby is not able to grow at the normal rate in the uterus. That means the baby or the intrauterine foetus is smaller than expected. Scientifically, it implies that the weight of baby is 10% lesser than its expected weight at that time, on an ultrasound evaluation.
This delayed growth in the baby puts it at risk of certain health hazards during pregnancy, delivery and even after birth.
There are many reasons for a baby to develop IUGR. These include certain health issues that you or your baby might be suffering from, or it may be due to problems with placenta (the link between you and your baby).
Causes of IUGR due to maternal health conditions include the following:
• High blood pressure
• Heart disease
• Uncontrolled diabetes
• Kidney disease
• Lung disease
• Severe anaemia
• Smoking and alcoholism
• Drug abuse
• Anticonvulsant medication
• Infections like toxoplasma, rubella, syphilis and cytomegalovirus
Other causes of IUGR include chromosomal defects in baby, multiple pregnancies (twins or triplets) or placental insufficiency.
Fetal growth restriction can put your baby at risk for following complications:
• Low birth weight
• Poor resistance to infections
• Low Apgar score (A test recorded in new born babies for evaluating their health score and to decide whether baby needs a special care)
• Meconium aspiration syndrome
• High red blood cells count
• Difficulty in maintaining body’s temperature
• In very severe cases, it can result in still birth
The most important symptom your IUGR baby presents with is weight 10% less than the expected weight. Apart from that, the cause of IUGR can determine the symptoms of IUGR baby.
Some of the common symptoms of growth retardation include:
• Baby looks small
• Malnourished baby
• Skin of baby is pale, thin, loose and dry
• Umbilical cord appears dull and thin
Sometimes an IUGR baby may pick up weight after birth and start appearing normal after a month of life.
IUGR is usually diagnosed using an ultrasound. On ultrasound, your baby’s head and abdomen is measured and compared with a standard growth chart to estimate baby’s weight.
Apart from this, Doppler studies, amniocentesis and foetal monitoring can help in evaluating the health status of the baby inside your womb.
IUGR on the basis of size of head and body is categorized as:
IUGR can occur in normal and healthy mothers as well, but here is a list of things that you can do to reduce the risk of IUGR:
• Do your timely obstetric check up with all the recommended tests and scans
• Count your baby’s movements and track them. If you find them reduced, report it to your doctor immediately.
• If you have diabetes or hypertension or any other health condition, treat it well and continue its medication under the supervision of your doctor.
• A healthy diet during pregnancy along with exercises is a key factor. IUGR pregnancy diet includes a relatively high protein diet that helps in better development of the baby.
• Adequate rest is required. A good refreshing sleep of 6-8 hours in mandatory.
• Avoid alcohol, smoking or use of drugs.
Precaution during pregnancy is the key to prevent IUGR and this prevention of IUGR is in fact, the best IUGR treatment possible.