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Pregnancy: When Your Baby Stops Growing
Family Doctor (USA), 2004What is intrauterine growth restriction ? Intrauterine growth restriction ("IUGR," for short) is a term for a baby who is smaller than normal during pregnancy.
The most common cause is a problem in the placenta (the tissue that carries food and blood to the baby).
If the mother has an infection, high blood pressure, is smoking, or drinking too much alcohol or abusing drugs, her baby might have IUGR.
Just like there are different sizes of infants, children and adults, there are also different sizes of babies in the uterus.
How will I know if my baby is just small or has IUGR? During your pregnancy, your doctor will do tests to find out if your baby is growing normally.
The ultrasound exam lets your doctor "see" your baby in your uterus with an instrument that is moved across your abdomen (belly).
When the ultrasound exam is done, your doctor will measure the size of your baby's head, abdomen and legs.
If your baby is small, ultrasound exams may be done more often than usual to check your baby's health.
But if your baby is not growing at all or has other problems, your doctor may decide that an early delivery could help.
Your baby's heart rate and movements will be closely watched to help you and your doctor make this decision.
Will I need to have a cesarean section? If there are no signs of problems with your baby during labor, a vaginal delivery is OK.