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MedMinute: Math Rivals Ultrasound For Predicting Birth Weight

An equation developed by Duke researchers can predict birth weight earlier, and just as accurately, as ultrasound. It's helping doctors plan for the arrival of large babies, who can present injury risks for themselves and their mothers during del...

Many low birth-weight babies face serious health problems, but there are also risks of injury during delivery for large infants -- and their moms. A new study confirms that a mathematical equation using standard health data obtained from every woman during pregnancy can predict birth weight within eight percent of actual birth weight, which is just as accurate as ultrasound. Dr. Gerard Nahum, associate clinical professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Duke University Medical Center, was the study's lead author. "Using our algorithmic tree of 61 equations, we can pick the most appropriate equation for each mom, such that we can predict big babies over half the time." Nahum says being able to predict birth weight can help obstetricians and mothers-to-be prepare for the arrival of a large baby, typically one weighing more than 8.8 pounds. "They can calculate as long as three months before delivery what a baby's weight is likely to be at every gestational age, so that they can plan delivery and possibly induce labor earlier, rather than wait for a baby to become too large and to wind up with damage both to the fetus and the mom." I'm Cabell Smith for MedMinute.