Intrauterine Growth Restriction (IUGR)
IUGR Diagnosis continued...
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.
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.
Although it is not possible to reverse IUGR, the following may help slow or minimize the effects.
- Improving nutrition. Some studies have shown that increasing the mother's nutrition may increase the baby's weight gain and growth in the uterus.
- Bed rest. Whether in the hospital or at home, bed rest may help improve circulation to the fetus.
- Delivery. If IUGR puts the baby's health at danger, the doctor may decide to deliver the baby early. If the doctor believes the baby is too weak for the stresses of labor and delivery, or if the baby has problems during labor, a cesarean section (C section) may be safer.
Preventing Intrauterine Growth Restriction
Although IUGR can occur even when a mother is perfectly healthy, there are things mothers can do to reduce the risk of IUGR and increase the odds of a healthy pregnancy and baby.
- Keep all of your prenatal appointments. Detecting potential problems early allows you treat them early.
- Be aware of your baby's movements. A baby who doesn't move often or who stops moving may have a problem. If you notice changes in your baby's movement, call your doctor.
- Check your medications. Sometimes a medication a mother is taking for another health problem can lead to problems with her unborn baby.
- Eat healthfully. Healthy foods and ample calories help keep your baby well nourished.
- Get plenty of rest. Rest will help you feel better and it may even help your baby grow. Try to get eight hours of sleep (or more) each night. An hour or two of rest in the afternoon is also good for you.
- Practice healthy lifestyle habits. If you drink alcohol, take drugs, or smoke, stop for the health of your baby.