The International Fetal and Newborn Growth Consortium for the 21st Century, or INTERGROWTH-21st, is a global, multidisciplinary network of more than 300 researchers and clinicians from 27 institutions in 18 countries worldwide and coordinated from the University of Oxford. We are dedicated to improving perinatal health globally and committed to reducing the millions of preventable newborn deaths that occur as a result of preterm birth or poor intrauterine growth.
In order to meet this goal, we need international growth standards to measure and improve maternal and newborn clinical care, and compare outcomes across populations. Such standards exist to monitor the growth of infants and children. They are the WHO Child Growth Standards, and their release in 2006 was a landmark achievement. These scientifically based standards are now used worldwide.
However, the fetal and newborn counterpart has been missing, which led us to implement the INTERGROWTH-21st Project. Our aim was to extend the WHO Child Growth Standards into the fetal and neonatal period, providing tools for continuity of care from conception to 5 years of age.
The INTERGROWTH-21st Consortium implemented three population-based studies using standardized methods, and clinical and research protocols. We gathered a rich body of data on health, growth and nutrition from pregnancy to early infancy from close to 60,000 women and newborns across five continents, making the INTERGROWTH-21st Project the largest collaborative venture in the field of perinatal health research to-date.
The resulting data provide unique insights into growth and development for the 21st century. The findings also provide new ways of classifying preterm and small for gestational age newborns. In addition, we have produced a new international equation for estimating gestational age through ultrasound early in pregnancy based on the first international crown-rump length standards, and we have developed the resources necessary for enabling the adoption and scale-up of these tools at all levels of the health care system.