January 24

What Causes Slow Fetal Growth During the First Trimester?

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Once you’re expecting, you need to know about the various stages involved in your baby’s development. While you’ll be excited by the prospect of welcoming your baby, you’ll also be nervous about the entire process of giving birth. It’s always wise to know about the downsides of pregnancy apart from the positives.

So if ever you’re looking for answers on what causes a fetus to stop growing in the first trimester? One of many possibilities is what they call “Intrauterine Growth Restriction (IUGR)“. It’s one of the issues you need to be clued up on as far as your baby’s development is concerned. Most pregnancies report healthy growth of fetus until childbirth. But there might be exceptions where kids may be smaller than normal by the time labor starts.

Types of IUGR

This comes in two forms—symmetrical intrauterine growth restriction and asymmetrical intrauterine restriction

Symmetrical IUGR: (also known as primary IUGR) makes up 20-25 percent of IUGR cases. In this problem, all of the baby’s internal organs are comparatively smaller and there’s overall growth restriction in the baby. 

Asymmetrical IUGR: (also called secondary IUGR) is when the baby has a normal-sized head and brain but their body is smaller. This issue is harder to diagnose and might not be apparent until the last trimester.

What Causes a Fetus to Stop Growing in the First Trimester?

Genetic factors determine around 31 percent of a baby’s weight at birth, so some kids are what doctors refer to as “constitutionally small”. If a prospective parent was a tiny baby themselves and they’re short in stature, their baby could be perfectly healthy—only small. 

But some babies with intrauterine growth restriction have other health conditions, such as heart defects or chromosomal abnormalities, which restrict their growth. IUGR may also happen if the placenta’s blood supply or health is impaired. In addition, it happens if the mom’s lifestyle, health, or nutrition affects the healthy growth and development of her child most especially if she used drugs or alcohol, or smoked while pregnant). 

IUGR Risk Factors 

IUGR in babies is more likely to occur if a pregnant woman:

  • Use drugs or alcohol or smoke during pregnancy
  • Conceived within a year and a half of giving birth 
  • Is under 17 years old or over 35 years old
  • Have heart disease or high blood pressure 
  • Have an infection like syphilis, toxoplasmosis, rubella, or cytomegalovirus 
  • Have placental issues, or uterine defects, including placental abruption
  • Have lung disease, diabetes, sickle cell anemia, or kidney disease 
  • Have other complications such as hyperemesis gravidarum and preeclampsia 
  • Is carrying more than one baby (though that’s maybe because it’s more difficult to carry multiple 8-pound babies in one womb, not that the kids aren’t growing properly). 

How to Overcome IUGR in Pregnancy

While IUGR can happen when you’re healthy, there are some steps you can take to improve both the health of your pregnancy and your baby. The most important thing you can do is get lots of rest and eat healthily, as well as avoid any tobacco, alcohol, or drug use. And remember to honor all of your doctor appointments—they’ll definitely be plenty from now on. 


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