What does it mean if my baby is measuring small for date?

“Small for date” refers to a baby that is born on or around their expected due date. Sometimes, this is referred to as “small for gestational age” or “growth-restricted.” A small-for-date baby has not grown as big as expected.

A small for date baby that weighs less than 5 pounds, 8 ounces, is considered to have low birthweight. A baby that is born with a weight of less than 3 pounds, 5 ounces, is considered to have very low birthweight.

Low birthweight babies may face a variety of difficulties. They can include:

– breathing problems, including RDS (respiratory distress syndrome).

– Bleeding in the brain, known as periventricular and/or intraventricular hemorrhage. This occurs in between 10 and 50 percent of very low birthweight babies. Most are mild and will resolve themselves with no or few problems. More severe bleeding can, however, lead to brain damage.

– In rare cases, low birthweight babies may develop patent ductus arteriosus (PDA). Before birth, a large artery called the ductus arteriosus lets the blood bypass the babys nonfunctioning lungs. In low birthweight babies, the artery may not close properly, and even lead to heart failure.

– Some low birthweight babies have a dangerous intestinal problem called necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), which leads to feeding difficulties, abdominal swelling and other complications.

– Many low-birthweight babies lack enough body fat to maintain a normal body temperature. Low body temperature can slow growth and contribute to breathing problems and other complications.

A variety of factors may cause a baby to be born small for date, including:
– Poor nutrition
– smoking
– inefficient placenta
– high blood pressure or pre-eclampsia

Here are some things that you can do while pregnant to help avoid having a low-birthweight baby:

– Make and keep all of your pre-pregnancy checkups.

– Take a prenatal multivitamin containing 400 micrograms of the B vitamin folic acid.

– Stop smoking. Smokers have smaller babies than non-smokers, on average, and maternal exposure to another persons smoking also may decrease the babys birthweight.

– Stop drinking alcohol and/or using illicit drugs, or prescription or over-the-counter drugs (including herbal preparations) not prescribed by a doctor aware of the pregnancy. Drug and alcohol use limits fetal growth and can cause birth defects.

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