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MUSCMedical LinksCharleston LinksArchivesCatalyst AdvertisersSeminars and EventsResearch StudiesPublic RelationsResearch GrantsMUSC home pageCommunity HappeningsCampus NewsApplause


Fetal growth study to customize curves

by Megan Fink
Public Relations
Just as no pregnancy is exactly alike, the standards to measure growth and diagnose fetal abnormalities shouldn’t be one-size-fits-all either.
Investigators from the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology joined three other medical centers across the country to follow the fetal growth in 3,000 pregnant patients over a two-year period to better understand how normal babies develop inside the womb during an uncomplicated pregnancy. Data obtained from studies at MUSC, Columbia University, University of California at Irvine, and Northwestern will go toward developing customized growth curves and to set a healthy standard for fetal growth; something already being done in Europe.
“A young, tall, thin Caucasian woman of European descent should not be compared to an overweight Samoan woman, who has had multiple children, or a short first-time Hispanic mother using the same fetal growth standards,” said Roger Newman, M.D., principal investigator for The National Standard for Normal Fetal Growth study at MUSC. “Most curves now are based on population data. We currently use a growth curve generated from information based on babies born in North Carolina. This new study will allow for a better determination of normal growth based on individual maternal and fetal variables.”
At present time, physicians measure the size of an expectant mother’s uterus with a tape measure to determine fetal growth; a process called “fundal height measurement.” Tracking maternal weight gain and ultrasounds also are used to estimate intrauterine growth. Limits in accuracy of these methods have lead to the need for better standards of normal fetal growth.
New variables that may be part of a database to determine if a patient’s baby is growing as it should include age, ethnicity, height, weight, medical history, and the gender of the baby, if known. The combination of all of these factors is unique, and therefore, produces more personalized growth curves. Resulting data will allow physicians to better answer questions, such as, what should a baby whose mother has the following characteristics weigh at 27 weeks? Is this baby underdeveloped or at risk, or is the fetal growth appropriate for this specific mom?
MUSC is currently recruiting 600 low-risk women, who have a normal body mass index and no significant medical complications. These women must also be in their first trimester (first three months) to participate in this study.   Investigators are looking for spontaneous, single pregnancies, so no twins or assisted-reproductive pregnancies. Deliveries must be planned for either MUSC or East Cooper Regional Medical Center located in Mount Pleasant. The length of participation will vary, but will not exceed nine months.
Qualified participants will receive gift cards, a CD containing your baby’s ultrasound pictures, and study-themed tee shirts for mother and baby. Shirts read “My baby is one of the 3,000 most important babies in the U.S.,” and “I am the standard by which all other babies are judged.”
For information or participation  in this study, contact Carolyn Williams at 792-0349, Holly Boggan at 876-1434, or Sarah Cordell at 792-6654.


Friday, Sept. 11, 2009

The Catalyst Online is published weekly by the MUSC Office of Public Relations for the faculty, employees and students of the Medical University of South Carolina. The Catalyst Online editor, Kim Draughn, can be reached at 792-4107 or by email, Editorial copy can be submitted to The Catalyst Online and to The Catalyst in print by fax, 792-6723, or by email to To place an ad in The Catalyst hardcopy, call Island Publications at 849-1778, ext. 201.