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Ultrasound Obstet Gynecol. 2000 Jan;15(1):36-40.

Customized fetal weight limits for antenatal detection of fetal growth restriction.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University Hospital, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.



To define cut-off limits for individually adjustable fetal weight standards for the detection of intrauterine growth restriction.


Retrospective study, with the outcome measures small-for-gestational age (SGA) birth weight, operative delivery for fetal distress, umbilical artery pH < 7.15, and admission to the neonatal intensive care unit.


Two hundred and fifteen women considered to be at increased risk of uteroplacental insufficiency were recruited to a study of serial ultrasound scans. Fetal weights were derived using standard formulae and, retrospectively, weight percentiles were calculated after individual adjustment for maternal height, weight in early pregnancy, ethnic group, parity and fetal sex.


One or more antenatal scans indicative of fetal weight below the 10th customized percentile were predictive for a SGA neonate at birth (P < 0.001), operative delivery for fetal distress (P < 0.01) and admission to neonatal intensive care (P < 0.01) but not for a low umbilical artery pH (P = 0.6). Receiver-operator curves showed the optimal customized fetal weight percentile limit for predicting an SGA neonate to be the 18th percentile (sensitivity 83%, specificity 79%, positive predictive value 63% and negative predictive value 92%). For the prediction of operative delivery for fetal distress and admission to neonatal intensive care, the optional customized cut-off value was the 8th percentile.


The assessment of fetal weight using ultrasound and an individually-adjusted standard is predictive of growth restriction and perinatal events associated with hypoxia or diminished reserve. The optimal cut-off value for predicting operative delivery for fetal distress or admission to the neonatal intensive care unit suggests that the 10th customized percentile is a good limit for clinical use.

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