Small for Gestational

Small for gestational age, also known as intrauterine growth retardation, is defined as an infant or fetus smaller in size than expected, meaning a weight in the bottom tenth percentile for a particular age. Small for gestational age is believed to be related to placental insufficiency, infectious disease, congenital malformations, drug and alcohol abuse, and cigarette smoking. Other risk factors include maternal hypertension, first pregnancies, and exposure to environmental toxins. It is considered to be one cause of low birth weight (less than twenty-five hundred grams, or five pounds eight ounces). It is not synonymous with prematurity, which is defined as birth before thirty-seven-weeks gestation. see also Infant Mortality Rate; Low Birth Weight Infant; Pregnancy.

Mary Cowley Parke

This X-ray of an infant afflicted by scurvy shows some of the skeletal effects of the disease, including bowed legs, stunted bone growth, and swollen joints. Infants who are fed only cow's milk are at risk of developing scurvy, since cow's milk is not an adequate source of vitamin C. [Photograph by Lester V. Bergman. Corbis Images. Reproduced by permission.]

scurvy: a syndrome characterized by weakness, anemia, and spongy gums, due to vitamin C deficiency anemia: low level of red blood cells in the blood diet: the total daily food intake, or the types of foods eaten processed food: food that has been cooked, milled, or otherwise manipulated to change its quality incidence: number of new cases reported each year malnourished: lack of adequate nutrients in the diet congenital: present from birth hypertension: high blood pressure toxins: poison


Strauss, R. S. (2000). "Adult Functional Outcome of Those Born Small for Gestational Age: Twenty-Six Year Follow-Up of the 1970 British Birth Cohort." Journal of the American Medical Association 283:625-632.

Internet Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (1994). "Low Birth Weight and Intrauterine Growth Retardation." In From Data to Action: Public Health Surveillance for Women, Infants, and Children. Available from <>

"Small-for-Gestational-Age Infant." Merck Manual. Available from <http://www.merck .com>

incidence: number of new cases reported each year cancer: uncontrolled cell growth cardiovascular: related to the heart and circulatory system asthma: respiratory disorder marked by wheezing, shortness of breath, and mucus production hypertension: high blood pressure diabetes: inability to regulate level of sugar in the blood chronic: over a long period pneumonia: lung infection menopause: phase in a woman's life during which ovulation and menstruation end

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