Fetal growth restriction significantly affects long-term development in preterm infants, according to a study in Pediatrics.
Researchers examined the birth weight, height and head circumference of 810 preterm infants, of which 147 were growth restricted, for 4 years after birth. Developmental delay was determined by the Ages and Stages questionnaire when study participants were aged 4 years.
The study findings show preterm infants who experienced growth restriction at birth grew slower than infants who were not growth restricted. The head circumference of symmetrically growth restricted participants exceeded that of asymmetric and non-growth restricted participants but remained lower at the age of 1 year. Fetal growth restriction was significantly related to poor developmental outcomes when participants were aged 4 years, regardless of head circumference at birth.
“Further research is needed to elucidate the effects of growth restriction in [preterm] born children. It may be that growth restricted children should not be classified by symmetry. It underestimates the sequels of growth restricted birth in [asymmetrical growth restricted infants] and also underestimates the ability of catch up growth in [head circumference] and possible developmental protection in [symmetrical growth restricted infants]. From this perspective, preventing fetal growth restriction might be the key to preventing poor outcomes in [preterm] born children,” study researcher IngerBocca-Tjeertes, PhD, of the University Medical Center Groningen, The Netherlands, and colleagues concluded.
Disclosure: The researchers reported no relevant financial disclosures.