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Reasons for small babies

Reasons for small babies


Health concerns for small babies

How are small babies detected?

Monitoring the pregnancy, what to expect?

Treatments for small babies

Reasons for smaller babies

Babies who appear to be growing slowly during the pregnancy are usually referred to as 'Small for Gestational Age' (SGA) or 'Small for Dates'. Other terms you may come across are Intrauterine Growth Retardation or Restriction (or IUGR), although these are going out of vogue (and so they should!)

One common definition of a small baby at birth is one weighing less than 2,800 grams (or 6lb 3oz) at 40 weeks gestation. The average, normal weight for a baby born at 40 weeks is considered to be about 3,300 grams (7lb 5oz). This will vary though, and will often depend on the ethnicity of the parents. (For example, babies of Asian parents are on average a little smaller.) Babies born before 40 weeks would be expected to be less than this weight.

Another method used to assess the 'normal weight' is 'percentiles'. (Or comparing the baby's weight with a scale of average birth weights). A small baby may be said to be 'less than the 10th percentile' for their gestation (or in the lowest 10% of birth weights for a baby of that age at birth).

Reasons for a baby appearing small can include:

A family history or genetic predisposition

to having babies smaller than average. This accounts for about 10% of babies who are suspected of being small. Women will often say "I was only 6lb (2,700 grams) when I was born" and therefore it would seem to be normal that she would produce a 6lb baby herself. If this is the case, there are normally no other health conditions that would cause the baby to be small (such as high blood pressure, poor diet or smoking). These babies normally do well and are not at any increased health risks.

The woman's diet is not sufficient

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