Screening for intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) occurs as part of routine pregnancy examinations. In checking the progress of the pregnancy, the doctor takes a measurement known as the uterine fundal height – the distance from the pubic bone to the top of the uterus. After the 20th week of the pregnancy, the distance measured in centimeters usually equals the number of weeks of the pregnancy. Low measurements indicate the fetus could be too small for its age.
Additional tests for IUGR may include:
- monitoring the mother’s weight gain during the pregnancy; too low a gain can indicate the fetus is too small
- ultrasound allows measurements of the fetus’ abdominal circumference and head size for comparison to standard growth charts
- the amount of blood flow in the fetus’ brain and umbilical cord are measured with sound waves, known as Doppler flow
- other tests to check for possible infections
Diagnosing intrauterine growth restriction as early as possible is critical to minimize health risks to the baby. If a woman feels her baby is too small, or she has related health problems, a consultation with her doctor is recommended.