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Health & Pregnancy

Intrauterine Growth Restriction (IUGR)

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IUGR Diagnosis continued...

Other procedures to diagnose IUGR and assess the baby's health include the following:

Ultrasound. The main test for checking a baby's growth in the uterus, ultrasound involves using sound waves to create pictures of the baby. The ultrasound exam lets the doctor see the baby in the uterus with an instrument that is moved over the mother's abdomen.

Ultrasound can be used to measure the baby's head and abdomen. The doctor can compare those measurements to growth charts to estimate the baby's weight. Ultrasound can also be used to determine how much amniotic fluid is in the uterus. A low amount of amniotic fluid could indicate IUGR.

Doppler flow. Doppler flow is a technique that uses sound waves to measure the amount and speed of blood flow through the blood vessels. Doctors may use this test to check the flow of blood in the umbilical cord and vessels in the baby's brain.

Weight checks. Doctors routinely check and record the mother's weight at every prenatal checkup. Weight gain in the mother can be used to measure the growth of her unborn baby. If a mother is not gaining weight, it could indicate a growth problem in her baby.

Fetal monitoring. This test involves placing sensitive electrodes on the mother's abdomen. The electrodes are held in place by a lightweight stretchable band and attached to a monitor. The sensors measure the rate and pattern of the baby's heartbeat and display them on a monitor or print them.

Amniocentesis. In this procedure, a needle is placed through the skin of the mother's abdomen and into her uterus to withdraw a small amount of amniotic fluid for testing. Tests may detect infection or some chromosomal abnormalities that could lead to IUGR.

IUGR Treatments

The best way to manage IUGR depends on the severity of growth restriction and how early the problem began in the pregnancy. Generally, the earlier IUGR begins and the more severe it is, the greater the risks to the unborn baby. Careful monitoring of a fetus, using tests such as ultrasound, Doppler flow, and fetal monitoring, may be helpful.

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