Clinical Edge

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Racial and Ethnic Differences in Fetal Growth

Are certain fetuses misclassified?

The miscalculation of up to 15% of fetuses of minority mothers as being too small may be the result of current standards for ultrasound evaluation of fetal growth, according to a study of more than 1,700 pregnancies. According to the latest study from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and other institutions, many fetuses of minority mothers may be developing normally but because of hereditary and environmental factors, may be smaller than their white counterparts. The findings also concluded:

• Otherwise healthy pregnant women may be subjected to unnecessary tests and procedures.

• There were significant differences among fetuses after the 20th week of pregnancy where fetuses of white mothers were the largest, followed by fetuses of Hispanic mothers, and then by black mothers whose fetuses were the smallest.

• 5% to 15% of the fetuses of minority mothers scored below the 5th percentile vs fetuses of white mothers.

Citation: Buck L, Grewal J, Albert P, et al. Racial/ethnic standards for fetal growth, fetal growth studies. Am J Ostet Gynecol. 2015;212(1):S36.