Fetal Growth Restriction: All Your Questions Answered

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Pregnancy is an amazing time for mothers. However, no way is it an easy one.So much happens during the gestation period. Your body turns into a home for nine months, and in your womb, life is beginning to form. During the gestation period, what starts as a tiny embryo, will soon grow into a beautiful baby, ready to face the world. And every mother has her heart filled with joy thinking of this which helps in battling all the challenges of this hard time. During each stage of your pregnancy, your baby crosses a different milestone. Each of these milestones determines how healthy your baby is and if they are growing and developing as they should.

However, there may be cases where the growth of the baby is restricted. When there is a disruption in fetal development, it can lead to what is known as fetal growth restriction (1). Early detection and care will help manage this condition better. We’ve answered all the essential questions regarding fetal growth restriction, so keep reading:

What Is Fetal Growth Restriction?

What Is Fetal Growth Restriction
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Fetal Growth Restriction, also sometimes referred to as intrauterine growth restriction, is essentially a medical condition in which the baby or fetus has trouble growing or developing in the womb. In cases where a baby suffers from fetal growth restriction, they tend to be smaller in weight than they should ideally be during the gestation period. Doctors diagnose babies with this condition when the estimated weight in the womb is less than the tenth percentile — in other words, it means that the baby weighs almost less than what nine out of ten babies would weigh in that stage of pregnancy (1).

Babies diagnosed with fetal growth restriction often have trouble with growth and development. This is because it can have an impact on the cells, organs, and tissues too. This is not to be confused with babies who are just smaller than most of their counterparts. A doctor will have to diagnose this condition before concluding that your baby suffers from fetal growth restriction (1).

What Are The Causes Of Fetal Growth Restriction?

What Are The Causes Of Fetal Growth Restriction
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Doctors believe that fetal growth restriction can be caused by numerous factors, including the mother and the child in some cases.

Fetal growth restriction can happen when the mother faces the following troubles:

  • Diabetes
  • Unnecessary weight gain during pregnancy
  • High blood pressure
  • Long term kidney problems
  • Poor nutrition or weight loss
  • Autoimmune problems
  • Smoking, alcohol, or drug use

Fetal growth restriction can happen when the baby faces the following problems:

  • Infections
  • If the baby is a twin or triplet
  • If there are problems with the chromosomes or genes
  • Congenital disabilities
  • Problems with the heart

What Are Some Of The Symptoms Of Fetal Growth Restriction?

What Are Some Of The Symptoms Of Fetal Growth Restriction
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Babies who have had fetal growth restrictions may experience problems with their growth and development. In most cases, such babies have a low birth weight when born. Their blood sugar levels are also on the lower side. Doctors will have to monitor their temperature, as babies with fetal growth restriction often have lower body temperature. Another problem that such babies face is a high level of red blood cells. They are also at a higher risk of encountering problems with fighting infections ( 2).

If discovered late in the pregnancy, chances of aforementioned problems are high. And the medical practitioners also wouldn’t be able to do much in such cases.

How Is Fetal Growth Restriction Treated?

How Is Fetal Growth Restriction Treated
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The treatment for fetal growth restriction depends on how severe the condition is — this can differ from baby to baby. The doctor will frequently monitor the fetus’ state so you will have more prenatal visits, ultrasound tests, and doppler ultrasound examinations. The treatment also includes tracking the movements of the fetus. Some mothers are administered corticosteroid medicine to help treat this condition. More often than not, fetal growth restriction leads to early delivery, in which case an emergency cesarean delivery may be required (1).

Mothers are asked to be aware of their baby’s movement in the womb. Any sign that the baby has stopped moving or a reduction in the usual activity must be brought to the doctor’s attention. In addition to medications and supplements prescribed by the doctor, eating nutritious foods and drinking sufficient fluids is also part of the treatment (1).

Can Fetal Growth Restriction Be Prevented?

Can Fetal Growth Restriction Be Prevented
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Unfortunately, fetal growth restriction can happen to any child in the womb. However, certain factors such as alcohol consumption, drugs, and smoking tobacco can increase the risk of this condition. Maintaining a well-balanced diet is extremely crucial during pregnancy, and this can help prevent fetal growth restriction. Maintaining a steady weight gain during pregnancy, within what’s optimal, can also help prevent fetal growth restriction ( 2).

As with many complications that can occur during the critical phase of pregnancy, earlier the diagnosis and treatment, the chances are better. This calls for mothers to be vigilant about their health and wellbeing. They should take the utmost care in maintaining the best health. Common knowledge teaches avoiding physically exerting oneself during the pregnancy and eating healthy. This is all well and good, but you can definitely take further measures towards your health. Taking help from nutritionists to have a custom diet that caters to your particular case and taking the time out to engage in yoga and workouts will go a long way in this.

During pregnancy, you aren’t only responsible for your well-being; you also have to take care of the baby growing in your womb. Although fetal growth restriction can occur in any pregnancy, certain risk factors can contribute to it, so make efforts to avoid what’s in your control. Though many things are out of your control when it comes to pregnancy-related complications, your general fitness and resilience is something you can definitely care for to be better prepared for any hard times. Did you or anyone you know have problems with fetal growth restriction? Share your experience with us in the comments section below!


  1. Fetal Growth Restriction
  2. Intrauterine Growth Restriction: Antenatal and Postnatal Aspects
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