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Pediatr Endocrinol Rev. 2009 Feb;6 Suppl 3:332-6.

Intrauterine growth retardation (IUGR): epidemiology and etiology.

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Fetal Medicine Unit, "Miguel Servet" University Children's Hospital, Zaragoza, Spain.


Intrauterine growth retardation (IUGR) is mainly due to a pathologic slow-down in the fetal growth pace, resulting in a fetus that is unable to reach its growth potential. IUGR frequency will vary depending on the discrimination criteria adopted. It is extremely important to use local or national fetal growth graphs in order to avoid some confounding factors. IUGR incidence in newborns would be between 3% and 7% of the total population. In our experience it is 5.13% a figure similar to the one obtained by other authors but with a progressively higher incidence during the last decade. There are multiple maternal factors that can generally be grouped into constitutional and general factors given that they affect age, weight, race, maternal cardiac volume, etc, socioeconomic factors with key incidence in the mother's nutrition level, where a poor maternal nutrition level would be the key factor in this group. We have evaluated multiple factors as possible contributors to the IUGR risk: race, parents' age, mother's height (cm), mother's birth weight and before pregnancy (kg), ponderal gain and blood pressure during pregnancy, and previous SGA newborns. Socioeconomic factors like social class, parents' profession, habitual residence, salary, immigration, and diet were also evaluated. We also included variables such as total daily working time and time mothers spent standing up, daily sleeping time (hrs), stress self-perception test at work and primiparity age. Toxic factors during pregnancy: tobacco (active and passive), alcohol, drugs and coffee consumption. Fetal or utero-placental factors were considered. In our study, the most significant etiologic factors were: Active and passive tobacco consuming, mother's stress level, increase of total months worked during pregnancy, total daily working hours and time mothers spent standing up and finally, the parent's height. Our data support the main objective of reducing the incidence of SGA newborns after IUGR by fighting against tobacco from all fields, including the passive smoking habit, and improving the laboral conditions of the pregnant mother, lowering the number of daily hours worked, the physical activity and trying to avoid and to cope with stressful situations.

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