Factors involved for growth in a baby, before and after birth.

Essay by greekqueen October 2003

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There are several categories of factors, which can affect growth in babies, whilst in the womb and after they are born.

It is true that growth can be directly affected, and I will describe how in the sections below.

For a baby to be born small for gestational age (SGA), or to fail to develop in the womb, various factors might be named in causing this, some of which would include:

Maternal factors:

High blood pressure

Chronic kidney disease

Advanced diabetes

Heart or respiratory disease

Malnutrition, anemia


Substance use (alcohol, drugs)

Cigarette smoking

Factors involving the uterus and placenta:

Decreased blood flow in the uterus and placenta

Placental abruption (placenta detaches from the uterus)

Placenta previa (placenta attaches low in the uterus)

Infection in the tissues around the fetus

Factors related to the developing baby (fetus):

Multiple gestation


Birth defects

Chromosomal abnormality

Fetal growth- Intrauterine growth retardation

IUGR Intrauterine growth retardation associated with placental dysfunction tends to occur later in pregnancy.


The fetus does not receive enough oxygen or nutrients during pregnancy, overall body and organs growth is limited, and tissue and organ cells may not grow as large or as numerous. Utero-placental and umbilical blood flow can be important factors, as can the transfer of glucose through the placenta or the production of fetal insulin. This can occur with toxaemia of pregnancy (also called pre-eclampsia). It also is very common in twins, triplets and higher order multiples. In the case of multiples, it may be due to unequal placental separation or from blood vessel connections between twins. (9)

Fatty acids

In a very recent study of essential fatty acids at birth, showed that placental function is important in the transfer of some fatty acids from mother to fetus, and that these fatty acid levels were correlated...