Intrauterine growth restriction, IUGR, is a pregnancy complication.  It is when the baby is growing too slowly and doesn’t measure or weigh enough for the stage of pregnancy the mother is in.  This stage is called the baby’s gestational age.  Even if your baby is born and is small it can be considered to be a baby that has IUGR. 

When born a baby weighing less than 5lbs 8oz, is considered to have IUGR.

There are two different types.  Symmetrical IUGR which is when all parts of the baby’s body are all tiny.  The second type is Asymmetrical IUGR which is when the head and brain are normal sized, but the rest of the baby’s body is small. 

The survival rate of babies with IUGR is low, due to either dying before birth, dying during birth from suffocation, or the presence of birth defects.  



There are many different things that can cause IUGR.  Most of the time it is because the baby isn’t getting enough nutrients and nourishment.  This can happen if there is a problem with the placenta.  The placenta is in charge of bringing nutrients and oxygen to the baby. 

Another cause is when there is a problem with the umbilical cord.  The umbilical cord connects the baby to the placenta.  Having preeclampsia or eclampsia can also cause IUGR.  If the pregnant woman smokes, drinks alcohol, or uses drugs it can cause IUGR. 

Other factors are infections like rubella, syphilis, toxoplasmosis, taking seizure medication, having lupus or anemia, having high blood pressure, a pregnancy with multiples, or the child having birth defects. 




There aren’t usually any visible signs or symptoms of IUGR.  So it is normally diagnosed at a prenatal appointment when the doctor is either measuring the uterine fundal height, or doing a routine ultrasound.  The uterine fundal height is the measurement from the top of the uterus to the top of the pubic bone.  If that does not measurement does not fall in the normal range for how many weeks pregnant you are, it could be cause of concern that your baby is smaller than it should be

During a prenatal ultrasound when the doctor is checking to make sure your baby is growing alright, they may also see that the growth is slow or off track.  If your doctor suspects IUGR they may want to run additional tests.  Fetal monitoring to check the baby’s heart rate and movements.  Screening the mother for infections.  Performing an amniocentesis to check if IUGR is caused by genetics.  



Treatment depends on the cause and how far along the pregnancy is.  When diagnosed before 32 weeks survival rate jumps to about 81%

If the mother has an underlying condition then treating that can help.  Changing lifestyle options like quit smoking, stop drinking and using drugs.  Make sure the mother is supported in following a healthy and nutritious diet.  Making sure the mother is getting enough sleep at night. 

Bed rest may be suggested to help improve blood flow if an umbilical cord problem is diagnosed. 

Inducing and delivering early can be beneficial to the child if there is a problem with the placenta.  If delivering vaginally is too strenuous on the baby, having a C-section delivery may be needed.  



When your baby is born small it can lead to a lot of different complications.  Small infants usually have a longer stay at the hospital and are usually cared for in the NICU, neonatal infant care unit. 

IUGR can cause complications in your baby like trouble breathing.  The doctors may need to give your child extra oxygen after they are born if they have trouble breathing.  Feeding problems can also occur, which may require a feeding tube.  Trouble keeping their body temperature up can also happen because they are so tiny.  Being so small can also cause your baby to have trouble fighting off infections.  Abnormal blood cell count, low blood sugar, and neurological problems can also be complications of IUGR.  

If your baby is diagnosed with IUGR there may be extra appointments and ultrasounds during your pregnancy to help keep an eye on the growth of your baby.  Early diagnosis can help the outcome of the pregnancy.  




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