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Small for Gestational Age Introduction

tiny feetThis page is for children who are diagnosed Small for Gestational age and their unique challenges.  Additional "related" topics can be found in links to your right and left. Remember, this diagnosis has multiple "opinions". It is often overlooked or misinterpreted. If you have any questions-please contact us.

What Does "SGA" Mean?

SGA (small for gestational age) generally describes any infant whose birth weight and/or length was less than the 3rd percentile (adjusted for prematurity). "IUGR" is a term also commonly used, and describes the small infant who had poor fetal length growth demonstrated while in-utero by ultrasonography. "SGA" is currently used to describe any child born smaller than average in both length and weight. In this brochure, we will be focusing on the SGA child whose length and possibly weight has not caught up to what is appropriate for their age, and for whom doctors can not determine any reason for the child's smallness.

Between 3% and 10% of live births each year are described as "small for gestational age" (SGA). In addition, older children who are of short stature and underweight may be labeled Small for Gestational Age by their physicians. There are many variances in the definition of Small for Gestational Age, but generally, SGA describes a child whose birth weight and/or length is/was less than the 3rd percentile (with age adjusted for prematurity). In addition, when ultrasound evidence demonstrated poor fetal growth while in-utero, an infant is also described as being "IUGR" (intrauterine growth retardation). These definitions are descriptive terms and are not specific diagnoses.

The factors behind why an infant is born Small for Gestational Age can be quite complex. The factors include fetal (such as genetic syndromes), maternal (such as substance use or infection), placental, and/or demographic (mother's age, income level, race).

But setting aside these possible reasons, the fact is that 9 out of 10 infants born Small for Gestational Age do experience catch-up growth by the age of 2 years, and usually by 6 months of age! It is the smaller subset of SGA children, the 1 of 10 who fail to achieve catch-up growth by age 2, that we will focus on in this brochure- - - the short  Small for Gestational Agechild.

These include "idiopathic" Small for Gestational Age children -- children who are small for unknown reasons - - parents who are of normal height, history of non-smoking/non-drinking, lab tests have ruled out known causative factors, etc. It can be frustrating to be the parent of a short SGA child, you want answers to why your child isn't growing. In this brochure, we hope to offer information on SGA children, and to answer some of the possible questions you may have regarding SGA.

How is Small for Gestational Age (SGA) Diagnosed? 

MAGIC is made up of parents of affected children. If you would like to talk with someone-

LEGAL NOTE:The information in this article is copywritten and legally protected against unauthorized reproduction in any complete or partial form. This article was prepared specifically for The MAGIC Foundation. Any type of reproduction is strictly prohibited pending the foundation and author's written authorization. Privacy and enforcement of our authors, families and materials is taken very seriously. Failure to comply with the legal posting of this notice, will be met with legal action. This brochure is for informational purposes only. Neither the MAGIC Foundation nor the contributing medical specialists assumes any liability for its content. Consult your physician for diagnosis and treatment.


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