Insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1), insulin-like growth factor binding protein-1 (IGFBP-1) and growth hormone (GH) concentrations were measured in umbilical venous blood after delivery of 78 term newborn infants. Three groups of pregnancies were prospectively identified during the third trimester, according to fetal size and subsequent fetal growth, assessed by repeated ultrasound scans. Fetal size was considered either appropriate for gestational age (AGA) or small for gestational age (SGA), according to whether the first ultrasound measurement of abdominal circumference was equal to or above, or below the tenth centile for gestational age, respectively. Subsequent fetal growth was quantified by the change in the standard deviation score of abdominal circumference measurements between the first and last scans before delivery. Fetal growth retardation (FGR) was defined as a (negative) change in SD score of greater than -1.5. Eighteen SGA fetuses with evidence of FGR had significantly lower IGF-1 (median 0.05 (range 0.0-0.24) U/ml) at delivery than 35 SGA fetuses with normal growth (median 0.13 (range 0.0-0.94) U/ml; P < 0.05) and 25 AGA fetuses with normal growth (median 0.31 (range 0.0-0.84) U/ml; P < 0.05). The median concentration in the SGA group with normal growth was also significantly lower than that of the AGA group with normal growth. There were no significant differences in IGFBP-1 or GH concentrations between the three groups. These observations indicate that umbilical blood concentrations at birth of IGF-1, but not IGFBP-1 or GH, relate to both fetal size and fetal growth during the third trimester of pregnancies reaching term.
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