Here’s What It Really Means If Your Baby Is Measuring Small

Being pregnant is an exciting time in one’s life. From that first positive pregnancy test and baby announcement to the first kicks, every day of the 40 or so weeks can feel like a new adventure. But that adventure also comes with a lot of worries and concerns.

During an ultrasound, a doctor reviews different parts of the baby, including the brain, kidneys, heart, and eyes (via Healthline). The ultrasound scan can also tell you how big your baby is measuring at certain points throughout your pregnancy. Doctors will measure your baby in utero to ensure they are growing correctly. If your baby is measuring smaller than the amount of weeks you are at, they are said to have a small gestational age (via the University of Rochester Medical Center).

For many families, your baby may just be small because you and your significant other are small. Unfortunately for others, measuring small can be a worrisome sign.

What causes a small gestational age?

Many babies who are not growing correctly in utero have what is called intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR). According to the University of Rochester Medical Center, “this happens when the unborn baby doesn’t get the nutrients and oxygen needed to grow and develop organs and tissues.” Growth restrictions can occur when problems such as high blood pressure or infection occur in the mother or problems such as birth defects or chromosomal issues occur in the baby (via Stanford Children’s Health).

According to Kids Health, treatment for IUGR varies on the baby and the reason for their smaller size. Some cases may be treated by the mother living a healthier lifestyle or going on bed rest, while other cases may cause a doctor to suggest inducing labor early or opting for a C-section.

While it’s true that IUGR and a smaller birth weight can lead to health issues after birth and throughout life, most babies who have this diagnosis will end up perfectly healthy and their weight will catch up to others their age (via BabyCenter).

If your doctor is concerned about your baby being smaller than average during pregnancy, ask about your treatment options and how severe the diagnosis may be. According to BabyCenter, the best thing you can do is keep the communication lines with your doctor open and attend all your prenatal and fetal testing appointments.

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