Early childhood neurodevelopment after intrauterine growth restriction: a systematic review

Terri A Levine, Ruth E Grunau, Fionnuala M McAuliffe, RagaMallika Pinnamaneni, Adrienne Foran, Fiona A Alderdice

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

117 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE: Children who experienced intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) may be at increased risk for adverse developmental outcomes in early childhood. The objective of this study was to carry out a systematic review of neurodevelopmental outcomes from 6 months to 3 years after IUGR.

METHODS: PubMed, Embase, PsycINFO, Maternity and Infant Care, and CINAHL databases were searched by using the search terms intrauterine, fetal, growth restriction, child development, neurodevelopment, early childhood, cognitive, motor, speech, language. Studies were eligible for inclusion if participants met specified criteria for growth restriction, follow-up was conducted within 6 months to 3 years, methods were adequately described, non-IUGR comparison groups were included, and full English text of the article was available. A specifically designed data extraction form was used. The methodological quality of included studies was assessed using well-documented quality-appraisal guidelines.

RESULTS: Of 731 studies reviewed, 16 were included. Poorer neurodevelopmental outcomes after IUGR were described in 11. Ten found motor, 8 cognitive, and 7 language delays. Other delays included social development, attention, and adaptive behavior. Only 8 included abnormal Doppler parameters in their definitions of IUGR.

CONCLUSIONS: Evidence suggests that children are at risk for poorer neurodevelopmental outcomes following IUGR from 6 months to 3 years of age. The heterogeneity of primary outcomes, assessment measures, adjustment for confounding variables, and definitions of IUGR limits synthesis and interpretation. Sample sizes in most studies were small, and some examined preterm IUGR children without including term IUGR or AGA comparison groups, limiting the value of extant studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)126-41
Number of pages16
Issue number1
Early online date29 Dec 2014
Publication statusPublished - 01 Jan 2015


  • Child, Preschool
  • Developmental Disabilities
  • Fetal Growth Retardation
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Nervous System


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