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panicked about brain development can anyone help?

(13 Posts)
emeraldgirl1 Wed 30-Jan-13 15:40:22

I've just had a scan at 33 weeks to check issues about the placenta.

Which means I got some measurements for the baby and how it is growing etc. All the measurements (leg length, abdominal size etc) were all well into the 60th percentile or higher, but the Occipitofrontal diameter was in the 21st percentile, which struck me as very odd considering the rest of the baby's size. My DH in particular is now in a state about what this means, and getting worried that it is something to do with the brain development (I think the measurement is about the baby's head from front to back?)

I didn't see the results until I brought my notes home and so didn't have the chance to ask the MW. I could call her but I feel totally neurotic PFB for doing so.

Does anyone have any experience of what this means?

I am beating myself up here for not having taken fish oils throughout pregnancy now, and worried that I have done something to mean that the baby's brain isn't developing at the same rate as the rest of her sad

Please forgive me for being neurotic!!!

mellen Wed 30-Jan-13 15:47:23

You taking fish oils in pregnancy is not going to make a measurable difference to the size of your babies brain, and head size is only weakly correlated with IQ. There could be all sorts of reasons why the measurement is lower - some people are above average height, but with a smaller than average head, or the measurement could be wrong - a small difference in the angle of the head could be important. Even so your babes head size is well within the normal range.

Can you speak to your midwife about it, they may be able to reassure you on this? If you are worrying then I'm sure they would rather you asked then carry on upset.

TwitchyTail Wed 30-Jan-13 16:15:34

Do not worry . The scan measurements are just an approximation, particularly if the baby is moving around or in a tricky position. As long as the measurements are within the normal range (between 5th and 95th centile), there is no cause for concern.

I had fortnightly growth scans from 28-32 weeks due to placenta problems. The centile of each measurement varied significantly each time, but all fell within the normal range and the general trend was upwards, so no-one cared in the least. I don't think my baby's head was shrinking and exploding from day to day, but rather the measurements were done in slightly different positions.

Within the normal range, head size does not correlate with brain development. Heck, I've got a tiny head and a first from Cambridge grin

Definitely call midwife for extra reassurance though.

emeraldgirl1 Wed 30-Jan-13 16:19:45

Thank you so, so much, mellen and TwitchyTail I can't tell you how much I appreciate the reassurance!

I think I may drop the MW an email about it, feels a bit less bonkers than a phone call...

I am now thinking that my MIL has a very small head and neither DH nor I have huge heads in relation to our size so obviously it makes sense that it is just that she will have a small head and (I hope) her brain will be fine.

I know I am sounding neurotic as hell, it was just that DH and I (Not having remotely medical or scientific backgrounds) were looking at the results which show 75th percentile for this and 85th for that and then 21st for the head measurement - which freaked us both out a bit! I think we'd have been much less concerned if it was short legs or a abdomen measurement in the 21st percentile than a head-related one.

But thank you so much for the replies, I feel much better and a bit silly blush

Gurraun Wed 30-Jan-13 17:33:46

Sorry no experience of this but I have a very small head (doesn't look freakishly small but I horse ride and have a kid's size hat, same with ski helmet etc). My brain appears to be fine (bit ditsy) but work as a Solicitor, with good degree etc. I also have quite long legs for my body so I imagine if detailed scanning had been around when I was in utero I'd have been about 80% percentile for legs and 20% for head! What I am trying to say in a garbled way is that they are only comparing to 'the average' and not everyone is average, but still perfect in their own way. I am sure that if it was anything to worry about the MW would have flagged it for further investigation but of course email to set your mind at rest. PS think how much less painful that head will be as it goes down the birth canal!!! My husband comes from a long line of big heads and I was gutted on ds scan to see that he had followed his head size and not mine!!!

emeraldgirl1 Wed 30-Jan-13 18:33:25

Thanks so much Gurraun. Yes, it has just occurred to me, too, how a small head could be of great benefit to ME during labour!! smile My SIL's two babies had MASSIVE heads (they were each over 10 pounds, and most of that was head) and she had a nightmare time in labour so maybe this is a very very good thing...

queenofthepirates Wed 30-Jan-13 18:45:50

GPs, Midwives and health visitors are almost without exception more than happy to answer new mums' questions however insignificant or barmy (I'm not calling you barmy btw). I think they quite relish the challenge! Don't feel embarrassed, get stuck in and voice your concerns with them and give them a chance to reassure you it's all okay.

I wish I could tell you some of the thoughts I've presented my HV with but I'd be too embarrassed to tell you.

TwitchyTail Wed 30-Jan-13 19:08:18

Pop into Tesco and have a good stare at peoples' heads. You'll be amazed at the variation in size (even considering overall build), which you'll never have noticed before because you weren't looking for it. You might get a few funny looks but I bet it will put your mind at rest grin

Quilty Wed 30-Jan-13 19:20:41

Hi as others have said, this is nothing to be concerned about. I'm a sonographer and regularly explain these measurements to worried parents. It just means that your baby has a more rounded head shape rather than oval. If there was a problem the sonographer would have said, please have faith in us! That said I know how easy it is to worry, you are by no means alone!

emeraldgirl1 Wed 30-Jan-13 19:24:33

Thanks again Twitchy - I will get a few funny looks if I stare at strangers' heads, but it could be quite funny...

Quilty thank you so much, that is very interesting about the round head shape... I am a big one for trusting in medical staff, so I do know logically that they would have said if there was any real problem at all.

Queenofthepirates - feel free to call me barmy smile I know I am (or can be!!) You're right about MWs and new mums, I'm sure, I just feel such an idiot for raising something when I know if there was a problem they would have said something. I'm intrigued to wonder what you might have presented your HV with, as I fear I willl be heading that same way!! smile

Quilty Wed 30-Jan-13 22:22:00

No worries emeraldgirl, never be embarrassed about asking the m/w, sonographer etc questions, I guarantee it will of been asked countless times before! I'm currently pregnant and even find myself worrying about things I tell people not to worry about! You just can' t help it when it comes to babies!

emeraldgirl1 Thu 31-Jan-13 07:08:27

Quilty - I'm sure you're right that any silly-sounding question will have been asked a million times before. It's hard to feel like you're not the only one!!!

The MW emailed me back late last night and gave a very good explanation that I didn't really understand blush about that measurement being only to do with the size of the skull and nothing whatsoever to do with brain development, something also to do with the fact that babies have soft skulls (with gaps in?)... I'll try and make more sense of it when I re-read! But it was reassuring.

Mylittlepuds Thu 31-Jan-13 21:03:30

I'm T1 diabetic and as a result of this the baby's abdomen is often out of proportion with rest of the baby. DS1s was literally off the scale by a long shot. Anything on the scale is normal and nothing to be concerned about, from what I've been told.

This baby's abdomen is again big but still on the scale. However I was still very concerned. It was 96th centile. However as I get regular growth scans a week later it measured in the high 80s. The accuracy varies massively between sonographers.

I'd ring the pregnancy unit at the hospital though as you're likely to get a more reassuring answer from them than a community midwife IMO. I really don't think it's anything to worry about though.

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