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“The huge improvement in health care we can achieve is unprecedented.”

On 5th September 2014 the good news was released, that for the first time ever, there will be International standards to assess fetal growth and newborn babies’ size.

This is the first time in history that the approximately 120,000,000 babies who are born worldwide, each year, will be assessed using the same common standards. An International standard will reflect how a baby should develop under healthy circumstances, regardless of the country. Both fetal growth and newborn size will be assessed. Standards will be in place that highlight various measurements when mothers have proper nutrition, adequate health, socio-economic status and of course medical care.

Fetal growth and newborn size assessment led by Oxford University team of scientists

These new International standards of September 2014, have been developed under the leadership of a team of scientists from Oxford University, but worked on by a global team. The study will be highly important, as for the first time ever, regardless of the country of birth, the assessment of healthy babies will be the same.

Ultrasound Pregnancy Scans Measure According To These Guidelines

The International standards provide centile curves for baby’s growth, which can be measured during ultrasound. Standards provide 3rd, 10th, 50th, 19th and 97th centile curves.

Regardless of where the baby is during fetal development and after birth, the same standard for being either underweight are overweight will apply. Of course in the case of undernourished babies this means that additional nutritional and targeted support can be given.

Professor José Villar, a senior author of the study at Oxford University said:

‘The huge improvement in health care we can achieve is unprecedented.’

You can read more about this study by clicking on Fetal Growth and Newborn Size International Standards

Newborn size

New international standards took six years to complete

These new international standards actually took 6 years to complete. Researchers at 300 clinicians from 27 institutions worldwide undertook the work. The international standards are part of inter-groats 21st project, the landmark project which is funded by Melinda and Bill Gates foundation.

Overweight births is an increasing problem

Babies being born overweight is actually an increasing problem. In particular maternal obesity rates have risen because of over nutrition, in emerging countries. In later life these babies will be at a higher risk of both high blood pressure and diabetes.

Underweight births

When there is poor fetal development, the risk is the babies will be born of a smaller size. This can lead to death in infancy, higher risks of illness and even death in childhood. In adult hood these babies may have an increased risk of high blood pressure, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

What next?

Another of the senior authors, Professor Stephen Kennedy of Oxford University, said:

‘We have produced the first international standards describing how babies in the womb should grow when they are provided with good health care and nutrition, and are living in a healthy environment. We now need to work with politicians and clinicians at regional, national and international levels to introduce the new tools into practice around the world.’
(You may like to read Fetal Development Stages Month By Month)


Nuchal Translucency

12-14 weeks


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21-22 weeks


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10-17 weeks


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Growth & Well Being

22 weeks onwards


Post Dates & Liquor

40 weeks onwards


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All articles on the blog and website are intended as information only. Please do not consider any of the information provided here as a substitute for medical advice. At all times seek medical advice directly with your own doctor and medical team.


This website was formerly Merrion Fetal Health. The clinic has undergone a rebrand and is now known as Merrion Ultrasound.