ASPPH logo


Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

BU: Perceptions of Fetal Size Influence Interventions in Pregnancy

Nearly one-third of women, without a prior cesarean, reported that they were told by their maternity care providers that their babies might be ‘‘quite large,” leading to higher rates of medically induced labor or planned cesarean deliveries that may not be warranted, a new study co-authored by Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) researchers shows.

The study in the Maternal and Child Health Journal found that only a fraction (one in five) of the expectant mothers who were told their newborns might be large actually delivered babies with excessive birth weights — a condition known as fetal macrosomia, or a birth weight of more than eight pounds, 13 ounces.

But those who were told that they had a “suspected large baby” had higher odds of perinatal interventions, regardless of actual fetal size. Women thought to be carrying big babies were nearly five times more likely to ask for cesarean deliveries, twice as likely to try to self-induce labor, and twice as likely to have medical inductions as other women, the study found.

The findings “tap one of the ongoing dilemmas of clinical care: what should patients be told about possible, but perhaps unlikely, risks?” said co-author Dr. Eugene Declercq, professor of community health sciences at BUSPH. “In this case, it’s even more interesting because a larger baby is typically a healthier baby and at less risk.”

To read more about the study, go to: