Pregnancy / Childbirth

Fetal hypotrophy (low weight of the child) - what does this mean and what does it involve?

Fetal hypotrophy (low weight of the child) - what does this mean and what does it involve?


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Fetal hypotrophy is a problem that applies, according to various estimates, from 3-10% of pregnancies. It consists in intrauterine growth retardation. When a hypotropic is born, it seems unnaturally small. The low birth weight of a child immediately draws the attention of medical staff and motivates to look for the cause. However, does this always mean problems?

What does fetal hypotrophy mean?

Fetal hypotrophy is a medical term that means that a smaller child is born than the age indicates. Otherwise, it is intrauterine growth retardation.

How can this irregularity be found? The child's height is assessed on the basis of percentiles, a grid similar to percentiles. Children who are too small are those in the first 10 percentiles.

Low birth weight is found when a newborn baby is born on time, but weighs less than 2500 grams.

Stands out:

  • symmetrical hypotrophy - it is diagnosed before 20 weeks of pregnancy, the size of the child is proportionally smaller than the age of pregnancy
  • asymmetric hypotrophy - it is diagnosed after 20 weeks of pregnancy, only the development of the trunk is inhibited, all other parts of the body develop properly up to the age of pregnancy. Asymmetric hypotrophy is more common than symmetrical.

Is it really fetal hypotrophy?

Whether a child was born "too small" can only be determined if if we know the real age of pregnancy. Unfortunately, very often, despite access to many modern apparatus, it is difficult in practice. As a consequence, a child is not so rarely assessed as exaggerated hypotrophy. This happens when doctors are convinced that pregnancy is older than it really is. Meanwhile, an infant can be born ahead of time and be assessed on the basis of standards for older children, because doctors believe that the baby was born on time. Then the diagnosis "hypotrophy" is obviously incorrect.

That is why it is so important to Assess pregnancy age based on CRL (parieto-sedental length) in the first trimester. If the pregnancy age calculated in this way differs by more than 5 days from the age calculated on the basis of the last menstrual period, then the correct pregnancy age calculated during the ultrasound examination should be taken.

Is fetal hypotrophy treated?

Management depends on the age of pregnancy and the causes of the problem. In some cases, it becomes necessary to administer medications that improve umbilical cord blood flow and help the baby get important nutrients. In other cases, it is recommended to observe and change the lifestyle of the future mother - taking care of the optimal diet, frequent rest. In extreme cases, premature pregnancy by caesarean section is necessary.

What could be the reasons?

Fetal hypotrophy can have many causes:

  • the child may simply be smaller, because mom or dad are shorter, because they inherited this trait from some ancestor,
  • the child is sick, a genetic defect has appeared,
  • there was a serious infection in the mother, e.g. toxoplasmosis,
  • hypotrophy may develop as a result of taking pregnant antibiotics during pregnancy,
  • use of alcohol, cigarettes, drugs during pregnancy,
  • mother's disease - hypertension, heart defects, kidney disease,
  • the placenta is malfunctioning and the child is not getting enough nutrients.

Fetal hypotrophy and what next?

Fetal hypotrophy is usually associated with a prolonged stay of the mother with the child after the birth in hospital. This is mainly due to the greater risk of increased weight loss after childbirth. Hypotrophy usually has a smaller appetite, sucks the breast worse, can lose weight faster after birth.

The problem is also heat retention, glucose disorders and calcium deficiency. It also often occurs prolonged jaundice, which also requires urgent observation.

In addition, usually a child with a low birth weight is subjected to more numerous tests to assess his health.

Parents who give birth to a small child often worry about how it will develop in the future. The good news is that in most cases it runs correctly. Sometimes the child stays smaller than their peers, other times they catch up quickly. It is very important to observe and systematically monitor your baby's height and weight by comparing the indications on percentile grids.



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