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New WHO international fetal growth charts

January 24, 2017

A research article published in PLOS Medicine contributes to the evidence base regarding the use of population charts for detection of fetal growth disorders and how best to determine risk of complications.

In the article, Torvid Kiserud from the University of Bergen, Norway, and colleagues establish the World Health Organization fetal growth charts for head and abdominal circumference, length of the thigh bone, and fetal weight using ultrasound measurements during pregnancy. The researchers included 1,387 healthy women with low-risk pregnancies and unconstrained nutritional and social background from ten countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, and South America, and found that fetal growth showed considerable natural variation, differing significantly between countries, and that fetal growth was to a small extent influenced by maternal age, height, weight, and parity, and by fetal sex. These findings suggest that WHO charts for growth in estimated fetal weight are more suitable for international use than those commonly applied today, but may need to be adjusted for local clinical use to increase their diagnostic and predictive performance.
Research Article


UNDP/UNFPA/UNICEF/WHO/World Bank Special Programme of Research, Development and Research Training in Human Reproduction, Department of Reproductive Health and Research, World Health Organization. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

Competing Interests:

I have read the journal's policy and the authors of this manuscript have the following competing interests: GP is a WHO statistical consultant and has a contract to give statistical support to the Fetal Growth Study. GP has worked with WHO for 15 years and has a relationship with WHO, both paid (contracts) and unpaid. GP is also a good friend of many of the investigators involved in this study. LDP is a Board Member of the Perinatal Quality Foundation, a nonprofit organization related to the Society for Maternal Fetal Medicine. LDP has received research support from General Electric Medical Systems unrelated to fetal growth. LDP also lectures 1 or 2 times per year at an educational meeting supported by General Electric Medical Systems unrelated to fetal growth.


Kiserud T, Piaggio G, Carroli G, Widmer M, Carvalho J, Neerup Jensen L, et al. (2017) The World Health Organization Fetal Growth Charts: A Multinational Longitudinal Study of Ultrasound Biometric Measurements and Estimated Fetal Weight. PLoS Med 14(1): e1002220. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1002220

Author Affiliations:

Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Haukeland University Hospital, Bergen, Norway
Department of Clinical Science, University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway
Medical Statistics Department, London School of Hygiene &Tropical Medicine, London, United Kingdom
Statistika Consultoria, São Paulo, Brazil
Centro Rosarino de Estudios Perinatales, Rosario, Argentina
Department of Reproductive Health and Research, UNDP/UNFPA/UNICEF/WHO/World Bank Special Programme of Research,
Development and Research Training in Human Reproduction, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland
Center of Fetal Medicine, Department of Obstetrics, Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen University, Copenhagen, Denmark
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, School of Medical Sciences, University of Campinas,
Campinas, Brazil
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Faculty of Medicine, Assiut University, Assiut, Egypt
Department of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, Milken Institute School of Public Health, George Washington University,
Washington, District of Columbia, United States of America
Service de Gynecologie Obstetrique, Hôpital Antoine Beclere, AP-HP, Université Paris Sud, Clamart, France
Department for Obstetrics and Fetal Medicine, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Hamburg, Germany
École de Santé Publique, Faculté de Medecine, Université de Kinshasa, Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Faculty of Medicine, Khon Kaen University, Khon Kaen, Thailand
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, India
División de Obstetricia y Ginecología, Escuela de Medicina, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago, Chile
Institute of Developmental Sciences, University of Southampton, Southampton, United Kingdom
David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California, United States of America
Center for Fetal Medicine and Women's Ultrasound, Los Angeles, California, United States of America



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