Small for Gestational Age Babies

An infant weighing less than the weight of 90% of infants born at the same gestational age is said to be small for gestational age. It applies to all babies whether they are born premature, postmature or at term, as the birth weight is compared with that of babies of the same age.

  • Placental insufficiency during the growth of the fetus, medical disorders of the mother, the effect of certain drugs used by the mother or consumption of alcohol while pregnant, may be the reason for the small size.
  • Heredity has its role, as small frame parents usually have small-for-gestational-age babies.
  • If genetic disorders or infections and other diseases in the newborn are not the cause of smaller size, small for gestational age babies grow up normally without any difficulties.
  • In some cases, babies born small for gestational age may have small stature as adults too.

The reasons for babies being born small for gestational age are many. The genetic make-up of the infant may predispose it to smaller size. It may be due to genes inherited from smaller-sized parents or because of a genetic disorder which causes small size. Growth retardation inside the mother’s womb, due to poor nutritional support resulting from placental insufficiency, is another reason for smaller birth weight. Placental insufficiency may be caused by several disorders present in the mother, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, kidney disease, or preeclampsia during pregnancy. Viral infections, especially an infection by the cytomegalovirus before birth, may result in growth retardation. Smoking or tobacco use, alcohol consumption, use of harmful drugs etc., during pregnancy may impair the proper growth and development of the fetus.

Premature babies have many complications as their organ systems are not mature enough for independent life. On the other hand, when small-for-gestational-age infants are born at full term, the usual complications of prematurity are not present, as their organs are fully developed. But they have higher chances of having one or more of the problems listed below:

  • Aspiration of meconium, resulting in respiratory problems.
  • Polycythemia, a disorder characterized by increased red blood cell count.
  • Hypoglycemia or decrease in the blood glucose levels.
  • Problems with the regulation of body temperature.
  • Reduced immunity.

If viral infections or genetic disorders are not the cause of being born small-for-age, the babies may not have any difficulties. If placental insufficiency and the resultant nutritional deficiency are the reasons for growth retardation inside the uterus, the babies may have accelerated growth when they are given proper nutrition and care after birth. However, in some cases, the growth retardation may be so severe that the infant fails to develop normally and may remain small in stature all through life. If the smaller size at birth is because of small frame parents, the baby may grow up normally, but may have a smaller frame as adult.

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

Yasser Elnahas

MD, PHD, Professor Of CardioVascular Surgery
Dr. Yasser Elnahas, Is an associate Professor of Cardiovascular Surgery. Dr. Elnahas was trained as a fellow At Texas Heart Institute And Mayo Clinic Foundation.Dr. Elnahas is dedicated to educating the general public about different disease conditions and simplifying the medical knowledge in an easy to understand terminology.

Latest posts by Yasser Elnahas (see all)

You might also likeclose
WP Socializer Aakash Web