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Ceylon Med J. 2013 Sep;58(3):116-21. doi: 10.4038/cmj.v58i3.6104.

Accuracy of ultrasound estimated fetal weight formulae to predict actual birthweight after 34 weeks: prospective validation study.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, District General Hospital, Ampara, Sri Lanka.



Late onset fetal growth restriction is often missed and is responsible for most intrauterine deaths. Ultrasound fetal biometry is routinely used to calculate estimated fetal weight (EFW). The aim of this study was to determine the accuracy of established ultrasound EFW formulae to identify small and large for gestational age fetuses when used after 35 weeks gestation.


This was a prospective validation study done between January 2012 and July 2012 at General Hospital Ampara. An ultrasound examination was performed and fetal biometry was documented within one week before the delivery in well dated pregnancies. The mean of the differences between ultrasound EFW derived from 9 formulae and true birthweight and their standard error of mean (SE) were calculated for each formula. Systematic measurement error was assumed to exist if zero lay outside the mean difference ± 2SE. To show the EFW frequency distribution, z-scores were calculated as the number of standard deviations an observed EFW measurement deviated from the mean for gestation.


A total of 393 pregnancies at gestational age between 35 and 41 weeks were recruited. Mean gestational age at the ultra sound scan was 39.36 weeks SD (1.05). All EFW formulae either under or over estimated the birthweight in singleton pregnancies. Almost all the formulae overestimated the fetal weight in low birthweight babies whilst underestimating the fetal weight in birthweight >3500g. Campbell formula remained the only EFW formula without systematic error when measuring babies between 2500g and 3500g. None of the EFW z-scores were normally distributed.


This study found that all routinely used EFW formulae would either over or under estimate the fetal weight. Until an optimum EFW formula that suits the Sri Lankan population is determined, interpretation of ultrasound EFW should be done cautiously, especially in small for gestational age babies.

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