Improving the management of early onset fetal growth restriction

Dr Lynne Warrander, Dr Emma Ingram, Professor Alex Heazell, Dr Ed Johnstone

Our researchers are looking at better ways to manage pregnancies affected by eFGR.

Fetal growth restriction (FGR) is a pregnancy complication in which the developing baby does not reach its expected size. 

The majority of cases of FGR are caused by failure of the placenta. This has serious consequences for the baby, particularly an increased risk of stillbirth

Most cases of fetal growth restriction affect babies towards the end of pregnancy, but in a small proportion of pregnancies, it occurs much earlier. This is known as early onset fetal growth restriction, or eFGR. eFGR occurs before 28 weeks of pregnancy, in babies weighing less than 600 grams. 

One challenge of managing early onset fetal growth restriction is the timing of the birth. Babies need to stay in the womb long enough to avoid a very early delivery, yet prolonging the pregnancy increases the risk of stillbirth. We have found that there is a lack of good research on how to manage pregnancies affected by this problem. 

We are aiming to address this by carrying out our own research as well as analysing data from existing pregnancies. 

Ultimately, we hope this project will improve our guidance to parents in this situation.

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This study is funded by Tommy's and takes place in a Tommy's centre.

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