TSP067: A thesis on fetal growth restriction

June 11, 2013

Some babies are smaller than others – this is a fact of life; some might call it a sad fact, others a hilarious fact – that’s because different people have different senses of humour.  Like how babies have different sizes.  FACT.

Some babies are small because they have what is known as “Fetal growth restriction” (FGR).  This is when the growth of the fetus is restricted.  ‘Fetus’ is one way of spelling the word, but most scientists agree that it should be spelled ‘foeoeoeoetus’.

Being growth restricted is like trying to grow in a very small room, like in a wendy house or a matchbox.  Sometimes babies actually do grow in matchboxes – always make sure you open up the box a little bit before you take the matches to the counter to buy; otherwise, you might end up with more than you bargained for.  Babies also grow in bunches of bananas.  Sometimes when the bananas are being loaded into a boat for transportation from the Caribbean or the Moon or wherever, a baby gets out of the bunch and bites the cargo handler.  The cargo handler should wear protective clothing, but if he is silly and does not (or forgets) then he should get to a hospital STRAIGHT AWAY because baby bites are highly venomous.

It is important to note that FGR is not the same as FDR, who was a President of America.  It is also not the same as FUR, which is just the word ‘fur’ written in capitals.  Some people prefer to call FGR ‘intrauterine growth restriction’ (IUGR).  This is sensible, because it avoids any confusion with the 32nd President of the United States or somebody shouting about fur.

Some people confuse ‘FGR’ with Roald Dahl’s ‘BFG’.  This is rather odd, but you can be pretty sure the Big Friendly Giant did not have fetal growth restriction – at least, not by human standards.  Or by lobster standards.

How to spot if you have FGR: (1) Are you a fetus?  If no, you do not have FGR; if yes, go to 2.  (2) Do you have FGR?  If no, you do not have FGR; if yes, you have FGR.  This is a simple test that can help put your mind at rest.  I hope you found it useful.

Seriously though, FGR or IUGR can be a very serious condition during pregnancy – really it just means that the fetus is growing less than you would expect in the mother’s womb.  There are lots of possible causes, including poor nutrition, low oxygen intake and listening to Lionel Richie (because all of the mother’s energy goes into enjoying Lionel and not on the baby; only selfish mothers listen to Lionel Richie during pregnancy.  Please note that dancing on the ceiling constitutes a high-risk activity for pregnant mothers and is not recommended by your GP… unless you have a bad GP… or your GP actually is Lionel Richie.  NEVER VISIT A GP CALLED LIONEL RICHIE – just in case.)

In sheep, FGR can be caused by heat stress in early to mid pregnancy.  This is an incontrovertible fact because I just saw it on Wikipedia and I am not going to check the actual source as that is Too Much Effort.

In order to raise awareness of FGR, the NHS set up a football team: Forest Green Rovers.  This happened in 1890 – 58 years before the NHS set itself up, which shows immense foresight and good planning skills.  At the start of every match, the Forest Green Rovers team line up in the shape of a womb and graphically demonstrate the effects of fetal growth restriction.  Then they have a whip-round and donate some of the money to charities that help babies with FGR, and spend the rest of it on sweets for half time.  The government says this is a GOOD THING and that more football teams should be set up to combat illnesses in fetuses.  Next season, an extra team will be added to the Premier League for just that purpose – Necrotising Enterocolitis FC.  They will replace Newcastle United, because their names are very similar and the FA does not want people to get confused.

In conclusion, FGR is a BAD THING.  Many pages can be written about it, but it is better to be short and sweet than never to have loved at all.  I would recommend reading the BFG to children, with or without FGR (but without FDR – he’d just talk right over you).  It is a good book.  8 out of 10.  THE END.

Conflicts of interest: I own the copyright to the BFG.  Also FDR is actually my dad.  And I am Lionel Richie.

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