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BACKGROUND: Neurodevelopmental disorders are increasingly believed to originate from intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR). Current reviews exploring the neurodevelopmental effects of IUGR, however, are mostly based on birthweight, an inadequate proxy. OBJECTIVE: We aimed to examine the association between IUGR documented in utero, and neurodevelopmental outcomes during childhood. SEARCH STRATEGY: Medline, CINAHL, PsycInfo and Scopus were searched for relevant studies published after 1970. SELECTION CRITERIA: The analysis included studies that identified IUGR in utero, with follow-up assessments between 1 month and 12 years of age. DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: Data was extracted for cognitive, behavioural, language, motor, hearing, vision or sleep outcomes. Studies were summarised separately for children born at <35 and ≥35 weeks gestation. MAIN RESULTS: Of 28 876 titles identified, 38 were suitable for inclusion. IUGR children born ≥35 weeks gestation scored on average 0.5 SD lower than non-IUGR children across all neurodevelopmental assessments. IUGR children born <35 weeks of gestation scored approximately 0.7 SD lower than non-IUGR children across all neurodevelopmental assessments. IUGR children with evidence of fetal circulatory redistribution (preferential perfusion of the brain) had more severe neurodevelopmental impairments than those born IUGR alone. CONCLUSIONS: IUGR increases the risk of neurodevelopmental impairment during childhood differentially across domains. IUGR children born preterm or with evidence of fetal circulatory redistribution are more severely affected. TWEETABLE ABSTRACT: IUGR is associated with an overall risk for neurodevelopmental delay in a range of neurodevelopmental domains.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





1062 - 1072


Doppler velocimetry, fetal growth retardation, intrauterine growth restriction, neurodevelopment, serial ultrasound biometry, small-for-gestational-age, Child, Child Behavior Disorders, Child, Preschool, Cognition Disorders, Developmental Disabilities, Female, Fetal Growth Retardation, Gestational Age, Hearing Disorders, Humans, Infant, Infant, Newborn, Language Disorders, Motor Skills Disorders, Pregnancy, Risk Factors, Sleep Wake Disorders, Vision Disorders