Fetal Growth Disorders in Multiple Gestations
Fetal growth is a complex process dependent on uterine blood supply, placental transfer of nutrients, umbilical cord insertion into the placenta, and fetal genetic potential. The human womb (uterus) was not designed to carry multiple babies thus it is very common for each additional fetus to create a change in the growth of all the intrauterine occupants. Approximately 15% to 25% of twin gestations, and over 35% of triplets, can have signs of poor fetal growth (intrauterine growth restriction) of one or more of the fetuses during pregnancy.
One of the reasons for concern is that babies delivered at a low birth weight (<2500g) are 5 times more likely to die before their first birthday than their normally grown counterparts. Even more concerning is that very low birth weight babies (<1500g) are 99 times more likely to die before their first birthday than babies born of a normal weight. Because of the high incidence of growth restriction in multifetal pregnancies and its association with poor newborn outcome it is imperative for early detection and treatment of this high risk condition.
Ochsner's Multifetal Pregnancy Center of New Orleans employs the area's largest group of Maternal-Fetal Medicine physicians and nationally certified sonographers who are specialized in the detection and management of fetal growth disorders. As part of your specialized pregnancy care, we evaluate fetal growth in multiple pregnancies every 4 weeks with high resolution ultrasound and fetal growth charts designed specifically for multiple gestations. If we detect abnormalities in fetal growth, the growth patterns are examined even more frequently (typically every 1-2 weeks). In select cases of extreme growth restriction more intensive monitoring including hospitalization with daily fetal and maternal assessments may be employed to maximize newborn outcomes.