Fetal growth standards for Somali population

Hiba J. Mustafa, Katelyn M. Tessier, Lauren A. Reagan, Xianghua Luo, Stephen A. Contag

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Accurate assessment of fetal size is essential in providing optimal prenatal care. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) study from 2015 demonstrated that estimated fetal weight (EFW) differed significantly by race/ethnicity after 20 weeks. There is a large Somali population residing in Minnesota, many of whom are cared for at our maternal fetal medicine practice at the University of Minnesota. Anecdotally, we noticed an increased proportion of small-for-gestational age diagnoses within this population. We sought to use our ultrasound data to create a reference standard specific for this population and compare to currently applied references.

PURPOSE: We aimed to model fetal growth standards within a healthy Somali population between 16 and 40 weeks gestation, and address possible differences in the growth patterns compared with standards for non-Hispanic White, non-Hispanic Black, Hispanic, and Asian singleton fetuses published by the NICHD in the Fetal Growth Study.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: This is a retrospective cohort study using ultrasound data from 527 low risk pregnancies of Somali ethnicity at single tertiary care center between 2011 and 2017. A total of 1107 scans were identified for these pregnancies and maternal and obstetrical data were reviewed. Women 18-40 years of age with low-risk pregnancies and established dating consistent with first trimester ultrasound scan were included. Exclusion criteria were any maternal, fetal or obstetrical conditions known to affect fetal growth.

RESULTS: Estimated fetal weight among Somali pregnancies differed significantly at some time points from the NICHD four ethnic groups, but generally the EFW graph curves crossed over at most time points between the study groups. At week 18, EFW was significantly larger than all other four ethnic groups (all p<.001), it was also significantly larger from the Hispanic, Black, and Asian ethnic groups at some time points between 18 and 27 weeks gestation ( p  < .05). Additionally, EFW among Somali pregnancies was significantly smaller than the Black and Asian ethnicity at 32 and 35-36 weeks and smaller than the White ethnicity at 30 and 38-39 weeks ( p  < .05). Abdominal circumference (AC) for the Somali population was significantly smaller than the other ethnic groups, especially than the White ethnicity at various time points across 16-40 weeks ( p  < .05). Femur and humerus length were significantly longer when compared to all other ethnic groups at most time points from 16 to 40 weeks of gestation ( p  < .05). Biparietal diameter (BPD) was significantly smaller than all other ethnic groups specifically at time of fetal survey (18 weeks) and at time of fetal growth assessment (32 weeks) ( p  < .05).

CONCLUSIONS: Significant differences in fetal growth standards were found between the Somali ethnicity and other ethnic groups (White, Black, Asian, and Hispanic) at various time points from 16 to 40 weeks of gestation. Racial/ethnic-specific standards improve the precision for evaluating fetal growth and may decrease the proportion of fetuses of Somali ethnicity labeled as small-for-gestational age.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2440-2453
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Maternal-Fetal and Neonatal Medicine
Issue number15
Early online dateSep 23 2019
StatePublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Research reported in this publication was supported by NIH, grant No. [P30 CA77598] utilizing the biostatistics and Bioinformatics Core shared resource of the Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota and by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences of the National Institutes of Health award No. [UL1TR000114]. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Fetal growth
  • LOESS regression
  • Somali ethnicity
  • fetal weight
  • growth standards

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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