Fetal growth restriction (FGR) is considered a common diagnosis in obstetrics. It’s a condition that carries a high risk of perinatal morbidity and mortality. According to the National Library of Medicine, fetal growth restriction affects approximately 3% to 8% of all pregnancies. Identifying FGR is crucial, since correct evaluation and management may result in a more desirable outcome. In contemporary obstetrics, medical experts consider timely and proper diagnosis and care of fetal growth restriction a major achievement. It’s best to understand what fetal growth restriction is, what causes it and how to manage it to avoid suffering from the possible risks it can present in severe cases.
What’s Fetal Growth Restriction?
FGR is a condition where unborn babies are smaller than they should be due to being unable to grow at the usual rate while inside the womb. It’s a condition associated with multiple long-term and short-term complications likely to severely impact the quality of life of the unborn baby. According to Medscape, FGR is when the unborn baby fails to achieve its most appropriate genetically potential size. In a FGR case, the unborn baby’s weight is less than nine of ten babies at similar gestational age.
When a woman becomes pregnant, fetal growth restriction can start at any time. The condition can affect the growth of the baby’s cells, tissues, organs and overall size.
Causes of FGR
Several factors can increase the risks of FGR, including problems with the umbilical cord or placenta. For instance, the condition can arise when the placenta is not attaching well or there is limited blood flowing via the umbilical cord. Both the mother and her unborn baby may have some factors that may cause the condition.
Some of the things in the mother likely to cause the condition include:
- Cigarette smoking
- High blood pressure
- Low count of red blood cells
- Long-term kidney or lung conditions
- Very low weight
- Autoimmune conditions like lupus
- Drug or alcohol use
- Excess weight
Some factors in the unborn baby that may cause FGR include:
- Problem with chromosomes or genes
- Congenital disabilities, like heart defects
Signs and Symptoms of Fetal Growth Restriction
Pregnant women cannot experience signs of FGR. But unborn babies with the condition can have certain symptoms after birth, including:
- Trouble fighting infections
- Low birth weight
- Lower body temperature
- Lower blood sugar levels
Preventing Fetal Growth Restriction
Any expectant mother can give birth to a baby with FGR, but correct healthy lifestyle choices and proper prenatal care can help protect the unborn baby from suffering from the condition. It’s best to avoid alcohol consumption, drug use and cigarette smoking, especially during pregnancy, if you want to give birth to a baby who does not suffer from an FGR condition.
Treatment of Fetal Growth Restriction
The nature of the condition, stage of pregnancy and current lifestyle all play a crucial role in helping to determine the right treatment. Doctors can use a Doppler ultrasound or prenatal ultrasound of the placenta to determine the severity of a fetal growth restriction condition.
Frequent ultrasound examinations and visits to the doctor can help you manage FGR to keep proper fetal development under control. It’s also important that pregnant women keep track of their baby’s movements. However, you must seek help from a doctor for specific instructions to adhere to when tracking the baby’s kicking.
Severe cases of FGR may lead to bed rest or hospitalization. The doctor can also recommend corticosteroid medications or other effective remedies when they spot an FGR condition in a pregnant woman. In some instances, a pregnant woman showing the signs of the condition may require giving birth by undergoing a C-section to immediately address the baby’s situation.
When to Call Your Doctor
It’s best if your doctor knew about your health history when you become pregnant. If you realize the number of fetal movements is decreasing gradually during the pregnancy, be sure to seek medical help immediately. You should also visit your doctor if you notice any other unusual changes in your pregnancy.