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Ultrasound Obstet Gynecol. 2009 Apr;33(4):441-6. doi: 10.1002/uog.6317.

Fetal growth parameters and birth weight: their relationship to neonatal body composition.

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Division of Fetal Imaging, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, William Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak, MI 48073-6769, USA.



The main goal was to investigate the relationship between prenatal sonographic parameters and birth weight in predicting neonatal body composition.


Standard fetal biometry and soft tissue parameters were assessed prospectively in third-trimester pregnancies using three-dimensional ultrasonography. Growth parameters included biparietal diameter (BPD), head circumference (HC), abdominal circumference (AC), mid-thigh circumference and femoral diaphysis length (FDL). Soft tissue parameters included fractional arm volume (AVol) and fractional thigh volume (TVol) that were derived from 50% of the humeral or femoral diaphysis lengths, respectively. Percentage of neonatal body fat (%BF) was determined within 48 h of delivery using a pediatric air displacement plethysmography system based on principles of whole-body densitometry. Correlation and stepwise multiple linear regression analyses were performed with potential prenatal predictors and %BF as the outcome variable.


Eighty-seven neonates were studied with a mean +/- SD %BF of 10.6 +/- 4.6%. TVol had the greatest correlation with newborn %BF of all single-parameter models. This parameter alone explained 46.1% of the variability in %BF and the best stepwise multiple linear regression model was: %BF = 0.129 (TVol) - 1.03933 (P < 0.001). Birth weight similarly explained 44.7% of the variation in %BF. AC and estimated fetal weight (EFW) accounted for only 24.8% and 30.4% of the variance in %BF, respectively. Skeletal growth parameters, such as FDL (14.2%), HC (7.9%) and BPD (4.0%), contributed the least towards explaining the variance in %BF.


During the late third trimester of pregnancy %BF is most highly correlated with TVol. Similar to actual birth weight, this soft tissue parameter accounts for a significant improvement in explaining the variation in neonatal %BF compared with fetal AC or EFW alone.

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