International standards for fetal growth based on serial ultrasound measurements: The Fetal Growth Longitudinal Study of the INTERGROWTH-21st Project

Aris T. Papageorghiou, Eric O. Ohuma, Douglas G. Altman, Tullia Todros, Leila Cheikh Ismail, Ann Lambert, Yasmin A. Jaffer, Enrico Bertino, Michael G. Gravett, Manorama Purwar, J. Alison Noble, Ruyan Pang, Cesar G. Victora, Fernando C. Barros, Maria Carvalho, Laurent J. Salomon, Zulfiqar A. Bhutta, Stephen H. Kennedy, Jos̈ Villar

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621 Citations (Scopus)


Background In 2006, WHO produced international growth standards for infants and children up to age 5 years on the basis of recommendations from a WHO expert committee. Using the same methods and conceptual approach, the Fetal Growth Longitudinal Study (FGLS), part of the INTERGROWTH-21st Project, aimed to develop international growth and size standards for fetuses. Methods The multicentre, population-based FGLS assessed fetal growth in geographically defi ned urban populations in eight countries, in which most of the health and nutritional needs of mothers were met and adequate antenatal care was provided. We used ultrasound to take fetal anthropometric measurements prospectively from 14 weeks and 0 days of gestation until birth in a cohort of women with adequate health and nutritional status who were at low risk of intrauterine growth restriction. All women had a reliable estimate of gestational age confi rmed by ultrasound measurement of fetal crown-rump length in the fi rst trimester. The fi ve primary ultrasound measures of fetal growth-head circumference, biparietal diameter, occipitofrontal diameter, abdominal circumference, and femur length-were obtained every 5 weeks (within 1 week either side) from 14 weeks to 42 weeks of gestation. The best fi tting curves for the fi ve measures were selected using second-degree fractional polynomials and further modelled in a multilevel framework to account for the longitudinal design of the study. Findings We screened 13 108 women commencing antenatal care at less than 14 weeks and 0 days of gestation, of whom 4607 (35%) were eligible. 4321 (94%) eligible women had pregnancies without major complications and delivered live singletons without congenital malformations (the analysis population). We documented very low maternal and perinatal mortality and morbidity, confi rming that the participants were at low risk of adverse outcomes. For each of the fi ve fetal growth measures, the mean diff erences between the observed and smoothed centiles for the 3rd, 50th, and 97th centiles, respectively, were small: 2·25 mm (SD 3·0), 0·02 mm (3·0), and -2·69 mm (3·2) for head circumference; 0·83 mm (0·9), -0·05 mm (0·8), and -0·84 mm (1·0) for biparietal diameter; 0·63 mm (1·2), 0·04 mm (1·1), and -1·05 mm (1·3) for occipitofrontal diameter; 2·99 mm (3·1), 0·25 mm (3·2), and -4·22 mm (3·7) for abdominal circumference; and 0·62 mm (0·8), 0·03 mm (0·8), and -0·65 mm (0·8) for femur length. We calculated the 3rd, 5th 10th, 50th, 90th, 95th and 97th centile curves according to gestational age for these ultrasound measures, representing the international standards for fetal growth. Interpretation We recommend these international fetal growth standards for the clinical interpretation of routinely taken ultrasound measurements and for comparisons across populations. Funding Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)869-879
Number of pages11
JournalThe Lancet
Issue number9946
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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