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Diagnosis of intrauterine growth retardation by a simple clinical method: measurement of uterine height.

Generally there is a tendency to underrate the value of uterine height in the diagnosis of intrauterine growth retardation (IUGR). This fact is probably due to the lack of standard normal values for this measurement. In a group of 298 healthy pregnant women, the 10th, 50th, and 90th percentile were calculated by week of amenorrhea. Uterine height was measured with a nonelastic measuring tape, from the symphysis pubis to the fundus uteri. With the use of these standard values the predictive value of the method was established. Of 44 neonates with low birth weight for gestational age, 38 had a uterine height below the 10th percentile (sensitivity 86%). Six cases of IUGR were not diagnosed by this method. Of 95 neonates with adequate birth weight, 85 had uterine values above the 10th percentile (specificity 90%). Ten (10%) of these were predicted as low birth weight but were born with adequate weight. The uterine height measurement is shown to be a very good method for detecting IUGR. It can be used as a screening test to detect impairment in fetal growth and to make early referral of those pregnancies.

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