As a pregnancy advances past 38 weeks gestation, the risk of stillbirth slowly rises. This risk is even higher if the fetus has impaired growth due to placental insufficiency. Better detection of fetal growth restriction at term could prevent many cases of stillbirth by identifying mothers who would benefit from planned timing of birth.
We know that the traditional methods of identifying small babies using the tape measure and physical examination of the woman’s abdomen miss more than two-thirds of all growth-restricted babies. Even performing ultrasound on all pregnant women in late pregnancy detects just over one-half of small babies.
The Fetal Longitudinal Assessment of Growth Study (FLAG) team aspires to develop a novel blood test to better identify term babies that are small, since these babies are at increased risk of stillbirth. The team will also look for new ultrasound markers of impaired growth to use either alone, or in combination with a blood test, to improve detection of placental insufficiency.
For more information on the FLAG study see: mercyperinatal.com/project/fetal-studies
Last reviewed September 26, 2017.