Washington: A recent study has explored the new international standards for fetal growth and newborn size, which give the first accurate measurements of ideal growth and development from conception to birth.
Lead author Jose Villar said that healthcare practitioners already had World Health Organization (WHO) international growth standards for children from birth up to the age of 5 that were used in 140 countries worldwide and now they would have international standards for the developing fetus and newborn too.
Villar added that the international standards would help identify signs of under-nutrition, stunting, wasting, and overweight at an earlier stage to implement preventive actions to reduce long-term health problems, such as diabetes and hypertension.
According to Villar, the new standards allowed, for the first time, international comparisons of newborn size from 33 to 42 weeks' gestation, complementing the existing WHO Child Growth Standards, which started at birth but did not differentiate according to gestational age.
He continued that the standards could be used worldwide to make judgements on growth and size from conception to 5 years.
Ola Didrik Saugstad said that the newborn chatrs, which could become a valuable method to identify non-optimum conditions for the newborn infant, showed that previously recorded geographical differences in fetal growth were caused mainly by different environments.
The study is published in The Lancet.