WHO multicentre study for the development of growth standards from fetal life to childhood: The fetal component

Mario Merialdi, Mariana Widmer, Ahmet M. Gülmezoglu, Hany Abdel-Aleem, George Bega, Alexandra Benachi, Guillermo Carroli, Jose G. Cecatti, Anke Diemert, Rogelio Gonzalez, Kurt Hecher, Lisa N. Jensen, Synnøve L. Johnsen, Torvid Kiserud, Alka Kriplani, Pisake Lumbiganon, Ann Tabor, Sameera A. Talegawkar, Antoinette Tshefu, Daniel WojdylaLawrence Platt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Background: In 2006 WHO presented the infant and child growth charts suggested for universal application. However, major determinants for perinatal outcomes and postnatal growth are laid down during antenatal development. Accordingly, monitoring fetal growth in utero by ultrasonography is important both for clinical and scientific reasons. The currently used fetal growth references are derived mainly from North American and European population and may be inappropriate for international use, given possible variances in the growth rates of fetuses from different ethnic population groups. WHO has, therefore, made it a high priority to establish charts of optimal fetal growth that can be recommended worldwide.Methods: This is a multi-national study for the development of fetal growth standards for international application by assessing fetal growth in populations of different ethnic and geographic backgrounds. The study will select pregnant women of high-middle socioeconomic status with no obvious environmental constraints on growth (adequate nutritional status, non-smoking), and normal pregnancy history with no complications likely to affect fetal growth. The study will be conducted in centres from ten developing and industrialized countries: Argentina, Brazil, Democratic Republic of Congo, Denmark, Egypt, France, Germany, India, Norway, and Thailand. At each centre, 140 pregnant women will be recruited between 8 + 0 and 12 + 6 weeks of gestation. Subsequently, visits for fetal biometry will be scheduled at 14, 18, 24, 28, 32, 36, and 40 weeks (+/- 1 week) to be performed by trained ultrasonographers.The main outcome of the proposed study will be the development of fetal growth standards (either global or population specific) for international applications.Discussion: The data from this study will be incorporated into obstetric practice and national health policies at country level in coordination with the activities presently conducted by WHO to implement the use of the Child Growth Standards.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number157
JournalBMC pregnancy and childbirth
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 2 2014


  • Child development
  • Fetal growth
  • Growth standards
  • Ultrasound

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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