What is Intrauterine Growth Restriction?

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Intrauterine Growth Restriction (IUGR) is a term used to describe a baby that is smaller than normal during pregnancy. IUGR is caused by an intrinsic problem in the functioning of the placenta, which is the tissue that transports food and oxygen to the baby. The vast majority regain their normal weight within 2 years of life.

Other known causes of IUGR are genetic alterations; associated foetal malformations; certain infections of the mother during pregnancy; toxic habits (smoking, or taking alcohol or other drugs); and high blood pressure before or during pregnancy.

These babies do not grow as fast as they should in the womb and generally have a lower birth weight, although the vast majority regain their normal weight by 2 years of age.

However, only one-third of babies born with low birth weight have IUGR. The rest represent the low end of normal. IUGR tends to run in families, with parents or other children in the family also often being small at birth. The hereditary component is usually more common when the parents are of low height and weight.

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