April 19th, 2014

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Estimated Fetal Weight: Maternal vs. Physician Estimate
Authors:  Rebecca L. Herrero, M.D., and Jack Fitzsimmons, M.D., M.B.A.
  OBJECTIVE: To compare the accuracy of fetal weight estimation as determined by laboring, parous women vs. by a physician using
abdominal palpation.

STUDY DESIGN: Four hundred seventy-one laboring, term, parous women underwent abdominal palpation by a physician and were
subsequently asked to estimate the weight of their fetus, unaware of the physician#s determination. Mean absolute error and
percentage of fetal weight estimates within 10% of actual birth weight for both maternal and physician estimates were compared using
Student#s t test. Linear regression analysis was employed to determine whether maternal age, parity and race influenced the accuracy
of the maternal estimation. In a similar fashion, level of physician training was analyzed to determine its impact on clinical fetal
weight estimations.

RESULTS: There were no statistical differences in mean absolute error (331 vs. 324 g) or percentage of fetal weight estimates within
10% of actual birth weight (62% vs. 60.9%) between maternal and physician determinations, respectively. Maternal age, race and
parity did not influence the woman#s ability to accurately predict fetal weight. Greater physician experience did not improve clinical
fetal weight determinations.

CONCLUSION: Parous women can subjectively estimate the weight of their fetus just as accurately as a physician using abdominal
palpation. Neither maternal factors nor physician experience improves fetal weight estimations. (J Reprod Med 1999;44:674#678)
Keywords:  fetus; labor; estimated fetal weight
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