ultrasoundAt the University Medical Centre in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, researchers found a connection between periconception maternal characteristics and fetal growth as measured in crown rump length (CRL). Researchers found a direct connection between age, smoking and drinking and CRL.

Researchers chose 87 women who spontaneously conceived a singleton pregnancy. All pregnancies included in the study ended in a live birth with no malformations. 3-D ultrasound images were taken weekly between six weeks and 12 weeks gestation. CRL was taken at all ultrasounds. Doctors collected more than 490 scans during the 87 pregnancies.

Conclusion: Maternal age appeared to have a positive effect on fetal growth with increased rump length of 2.0 mm ad 7.2 mm at six and 12 weeks, respectively, when compared to CRL of younger participant fetuses. Negative relationships were also discovered. Drinking alcohol may decrease fetal growth rate as noted by a 0.2 mm and 1.1 mm growth reduction at six and 12 weeks gestation, respectively compared to the control group. Similar reductions were found in women who smoked 10 or more cigarettes daily.

Source: van Uitert EM, van der Elst-Otte N, Wilbers JJ, Exalto N, Willemsen SP, Eilers PH, Koning AH, Steegers EA, Steegers-Theunissen RP. Periconception maternal characteristics and embryonic growth trajectories: the Rotterdam Predict study. Hum Reprod. 2013 Oct 8.