Cover Image
close this bookCauses and Consequences of Intrauterine Growth Retardation, Proceedings of an IDECG workshop, November 1996, Baton Rouge, USA, Supplement of the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition (International Dietary Energy Consultative Group - IDECG, 1996, 100 pages)
close this folderLevels and patterns of intrauterine growth retardation in developing countries
View the document(introductory text...)
View the documentIntroduction
View the documentMethodology
View the documentResults
View the documentDiscussion
View the documentReferences
View the documentDiscussion

(introductory text...)

M de Onis1, M Blössner1 and J Villar2

Correspondence: Dr Mercedes de Onis

1Nutrition Unit, World Health Organization, 20 Avenue Appia, 1211 Geneva 27, Switzerland;2Special Programme of Research, Development and Research Training in Human Reproduction, World Health Organization, 20 Avenue Appia, 1211 Geneva 27, Switzerland

The aim of this paper is to quantify the magnitude and describe the geographical distribution of intrauterine growth retardation (IUGR) in developing countries. We estimate that at least 13.7 million infants are born every year at term with low birth weight (LBW), representing 11% of all newborns in developing countries. This rate is approximately 6 times higher than in developed countries. LBW, defined as < 2500 g, affects 16.4% of all newborns, or about 20.5 million infants each year. IUGR, defined as birth weight below the 10th percentile of the birth-weight-for-gestational-age reference curve, represents 23.8%, or approximately 30 million newborns per year. Overall, nearly 75% of all affected newborns are born in Asia - mainly in South-central Asia - 20% in Africa, and about 5% in Latin America. Although some of these are healthy, small infants who merely represent the lower tail of a fetal growth distribution, in most developing countries a large proportion of newborns suffer from some degree of intrauterine growth retardation. These data demonstrate that many developing countries currently exceed the internationally recommended IUGR (> 20%) and LBW (> 15%) cut-off levels for triggering public health action, and that population-wide interventions aimed at preventing fetal growth retardation are urgently required.