Purpose of review: Intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) occurs when fetal growth rate falls below the genetic potential and affects a significant number of pregnancies, but still no therapy has been developed for this pregnancy disease. This article reviews the most recent findings concerning maternal characteristics and behaviours predisposing to IUGR as well as maternal early markers of the disease. A comprehensive understanding of factors associated with IUGR will help in providing important tools for preventing and understanding adverse outcomes.
Recent findings: Maternal nutritional status, diet and exposure to environmental factors are increasingly acknowledged as potential factors affecting fetal growth both by altering nutrient availability to the fetus and by modulating placental gene expression, thus modifying placental function.
Summary: Assessing nutritional and environmental factors associated with IUGR, and the molecular mechanisms by which they may have a role in the disease onset, is necessary to provide comprehensive and common guidelines for maternal care and recommended behaviours. Moreover, maternal genetic predispositions and early serum markers may allow a better and more specific monitoring of high risk pregnancies, optimizing the timing of delivery.