Small Legs Big head :(

Sorry I didn’t post sooner, I had a very stressful day.

I woke up early full of excitement about my BPP U/S (biophysical profile Ultrasound) to get a sense of how big the baby is and make sure things look Ok in there. There are a couple of concerns with post date babies other than size, like declining amniotic fluid levels and exchange between baby and placenta.

In order to get a growth estimate they need all these specific measurements which then calculate into some formula and then they tell you how big the baby is.

Everything started out well enough, until the tech asked me “Is your husband short?”

Me: “What? No, he’s 6’1″, why is the baby too short??”

Tech: “No.. just curious”

(Me: yeah right!)

Then she proceeds to take the femur length measurement about 100 times. At this point I know something is wrong…

“Is there something wrong with his leg?” I ask.

Turns out there’s this screen at the end of a BPP that shows you what weeks and days all the measurements come out to. Baby’s head is appropriately sized for 40 weeks 5 days, (i.e. big!) and his abdomen too. But the first measurements she got of his leg was for just 37 weeks and change. After trying to get better angles she managed to up this to 38 weeks, but I could tell it still isn’t enough because she talked about getting a colleague in there to try to get a better shot etc. You know it’s bad when they need someone else to take a look!

After we’d been at it for over an hour, she tried to reassure me that it’s probably something technical, i.e the measurement is off and that I shouldn’t worry etc.

Telling me not to worry is a complete exercise in futility – worrying is second nature to me, and when I think there is something wrong with my baby, there is NO stopping my head from constructing the worse possible scenarios.

After the U/S I went up to L&D for a Non Stress Test (NST) and to go over the U/S results with the Midwife on call Judy, who happened to be the midwife I saw at my last 40 week appointment.

Everything but the leg came back normal, though they did estimate his weight at 8lbs 8 oz. and based on ALL the measurements put my due date at 8/17/08 rather than 8/10/08. I guess everything but his head measured a bit behind?  But how could he be a week behind and weight that much? It doesn’t even make sense.

Judy agreed. She palpated my stomach and said she really didn’t think he was 8.5 lbs. I voiced my concern over the leg measurement and she told me that a 38 week leg measurement is a term measurement and I shouldn’t worry.

She also shared with me that at one of her son’s growth scans the tech told her his limbs were the size of dwarfism limbs! She was trying to make me feel better, but then she did say he is really short (though definitely NOT a dwarf.)   So I guess maybe Jasper will just be really really short? I’m not sure what to make of all this.

Of course I googled short femur measurement and immediately wished I hadn’t. There are all sorts of genetic disorders that this can be a marker for, even developing this late in the game. Things like Down’s syndrome, dwarfism etc. etc.

I know 38 weeks doesn’t seem like that far behind in measurements, but at this point I’m 2 days shy of 41 weeks, so it’s 3 weeks behind which is several standard deviations below normal. The midwife isn’t concerned at all, but that is small comfort to me when it comes to my baby!

In terms of progress news, she also did an internal and said I’m now a “Loose” 1cm, about 60% effaced and -1 station. So that’s a tiny bit of progress.. maybe the acupuncture session last night had some effect.

She also said they won’t let me go all the way until 42 weeks, I need to have the baby before then. They also don’t like to induce over the weekend, so if I don’t go into spontaneous labor (and she told me she thought I would within a few days) we’re looking at a next Thursday or latest next Friday induction.

Now I don’t give a rat’s ass about any of that though.. I just want to know he’s healthy. Short little legs and all :(

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Annie says:

I had my bb girl last week! 3 weeks early!
And she is perfectly fine :)) she is soooo small
But all good! Thank God

Annie says:

I feel so much better after reading all these’s
Post’s!! I’ve been crying since I got back from
my u/s. I’m 32 weeks pregnant and my
baby girl’s head and abdomen is 3 weeks a head
and her limbs are 1 week/10 days behind.
My doctor wasen’t all that Reassuring, she
just said the baby could be fine or have a disorder.
What kind of answer is that!! We are talking
about my baby girl!!! I asked for another u/s
and she said NO!!! She said I will have to wait
Until she’s born and deal with whatever happens!
I know I will have to deal with whatever happens
but I’m really worried and wish she would
give me more answers. My due date is
November, 14 th. I hope and pray to post some
Good news.

Bill says:

Just got back from 37week scan and head and body were perfect but arms were 6weeks behind squedule and legs were 4 weeks behind squedule, our 20week scan showed everything measuring in proportion, just wanted to no if anyone else had experienced this, my height is 5 “10 and girlfriends in 4″10, midwife said it will be just the height of my girlfriend would explain it, just really worried now and was looking for some reassurance thanks

Anna says:

Left a comment last September so I wanted to give you all an update. My boy turned out to be absolutely cute and healthy. =) He was born healthy @ 7 lbs 11 oz and 19.75″ long. At his 6 months check-up his weight was in 75 percentile and his height is in the 50th percentile. He’s really easy to handle so my new mommy life is a breeze. =)

jodie says:

Thank you so much for starting this chain of posts. At our 20 week ultrasound our baby had short humerus #s (25%tile)so they had us do the new Materni21 test to test for DS. It was the worst 10 day wait of our life but it came back negative. I’m 5’2 and my husband is 5’6 so my OB felt confident that we were just going to have a smaller baby b/c we are both small. Makes sense. She wanted to do a f/u US at the 30 week appt to make sure. So yesterday at the 30 week appt we get the news that the femur and humerus is now below the 5th percentile but the head is at the 75th percentile. Congenital dwarfism gets thrown out as a possible reason. She ordered a level 2 ultrasound for this morning. We spent last night crying, researching, praying, etc. Today at the level 2, the specialist reading the results literally apologized for us being there. She said she thought it was silly that we had been sent. She said the low humerus and femurs basically just tell her we will have a small baby. The head only measured 46th percent today. Huge difference from the 75th percentile yesterday. She said when she considers dwarfism she looks at a lot more than just the length of the bones – shape (bowed vs straight), ends (are they calcified or do they look like they are not forming properly), digestive issues, abdomen circum, etc. She did not see anything at all to indicate any issues other than having a smaller baby. She did of course add she does not have a crystal ball and can’t predict 100% what the outcome will be but she went as far as to say she is not worried. As many of you are saying, she and the tech said it gets harder and harder to get accurate numbers in the third trimester b/c the baby is all squished in the womb. By no means do I feel completely at ease, but I feel a lot less worried after her report and reading all the positive outcomes above. Try to get more info about the babies bones, not just the length. Oh, she also told me the lower leg and lower arm numbers looked about average, again, indicating the baby will probably just be short.

Issi says:

I just had my 28 week ultrasound. The dr. said the long bones are at 8%-tile. I had CVS done at 12 weeks and everything is normal. Does CVS confirm about no down syndrome and dwarfism?


Jenny says:

At my 20 weeks scan all was normal. I had next scan at 32 weeks when I was told all long bones are very short, like 3-4 weeks behind. I had 2 further scans and long bones continued to lag behind by almost 6 weeks. Baby was finally born and diagnosed with achondroplasia the most common form of dwarfism. I was already told possibility that baby may have dwarfism based on scan results but I still hoped and prayed it would not be true…..I used to read this site every day during my pregnancy and had hoped that my turn would come when I would post about my healty, normal baby….but that did not happen….

Juli says:

Follow up just in case anyone reads this (even though I know it’s an old post). I had my baby 6 days ago. We were concerned about an echogenic bowel, short femurs and a large head, and were told by a geneticist that our risk of Downs Syndrome was increased 6 times. My son was born perfectly healthy at full term, with perfect sized legs and a regular sized head! They also told us he would be over 9 lbs but was born 8lbs 1 oz.

Juli says:

I’m here looking for some reassurance. I’m currently 36.5 weeks pregnant. At our 20 week scan we were told our baby had an echogenic bowel (a soft marker for Downs Syndrome) and were sent to the children’s hospital to meet with a geneticist and maternal fetal health doctor. We declined an amnio as it seemed too risky. They did a high resolution ultrasound which showed them the bowel was no longer bright, but told us it still gave us a 6 times greater chance of the baby being born with downs. At this point they were looking for other markers such as a heart defect as it is common for multiple markers to show up if the baby really does have a disorder. They found no other markers and we left feeling hopeful.

They had us come back at 28 weeks for another scan to look at baby’s intestines, looking for a “double bubble” sign, which would indicate our baby has a defect in his intestines. This would raise our chances of the baby having downs. There was no double bubble, but they noted our baby’s head measured in the 98th percentile and his femur length was short. They estimated his weight to be 4 1/2 pounds (WAY above the average 2 1/4 pounds for 28 weeks)

Around 32 weeks my midwife started to comment that I had a lot of fluid in my belly. At 34 weeks they sent us for a biophysical profile to look at fluid, baby growth and muscle tone. That ultrasound told us head is still large, leg is still short, and I have a large amount of fluid. No one seemed to be overly concerned at that point, but I just spoke with the midwife who has scheduled another ultrasound saying she wants to keep an eye on baby’s progress. She didn’t seem to want to worry me, but really dodged my questions about whether or not they were more concerned about the baby having Downs due to these increasing concerns.

From doing some reading on this post, I guess I should feel reassured that other moms have been given similar “bad” news and had chromosomally normal babies…These last few weeks seem like an eternity while I wait to see what this peanut has in store for us! I will update when my baby is born in case anyone else is in my situation. I’d love to hear that someone with all the seemingly negative news we’ve received gave birth to a totally typical baby!

Brenda says:


Ultrasounds can be wrong… My was diagnosed with Tethered Cord syndrome and his spinal cord to end at level S3. For the first 3 months we thought he needed surgery ended up having an MRI to show everything completely normal with spinal cord at L2.

Also all of u ladies going through all these worries about measuments most of the time they are not accurate. As long as they are consisted with their growth they told me I shouldnt worry.

Well, now my beautiful baby boy will be 6 months in two weeks he is doing very good no big head or short legs like they told me

annit says:

Im 4weeks behide my due date. And yesterday i had my last ultrasound, they find out that my baby head is too big,around 40wk, and the legs are 32or 34weeks,THey said it possible that my baby come out as a dwarf. I feel extremly stress out now. Im asian im 5feet tall and my husband are 5″5. It’s possible that ultrasound thing are wrong? i don’t know how to deal and handle this now. Because this is my first child.

Amie says:

I’ve really enjoyed finding this website. All our scans were normal (I am 38, so we had several US’s). A couple of weeks ago we had a scan (at 30 weeks) and it showed the long bones were measuring 3-4 weeks off. We went back to the perinatologist and he came to the same conclusion. We had the amnio done Weds and will have the results on Monday. His main concern was some form of skeletal dysplasia, but reading all these posts makes me more confident that it’s just a small kid. I’ll update everyone when we get results…I sure wished I didn’t have to stress out the next 7 weeks ~ but sometimes I guess we have to go through the valley to see the hills :)

Denise says:

Omg I’m going through the same thing. I had my first ultrasound when I was 20-21 weeks.. Everything looked good so I didnt get any more ultrasounds. I just recently got one last week (33) weeks to just check my babys weight and growth.. It came out that my babys head is measuring at 37 weeks and her stomach at 34 weeks and her legs at 29 weeks or 31 weeks I quite dont remember that one real good. All I know is that her head is bigger and small legs (small body). My doctor seems a little bit conserned and now wants to see me 2 times a week. And in every appointment I have to do a NST. This is really worrying me I just pray to god my baby is ok and really stressing about this. And not just that, I’m scheduled for another ultrasound but this time the ultrasound is going to be different. I was doing so good till now :( I just hope theres some type of solution or mistake

Aga says:

Just yesterday I learned during the 18 months ultrasound that my boy has short arms. We are very concerned and don’t know what to think about it. We ( me and my husband) are both tall 5.9 and 6.1. I have PCOS and this is my first pregnancy after taking infertility medications. Doctor says that the arms are at least week behind in development from the rest of the body. She says it may be indicator for Down etc. We had done first trimester screening and was normal, but that doesn’t mean I guess that everything is ok for sure. Is it possible our child due date is incorrect? or the first ultrasound measurements are incorrect and put us week ahead? We were offered the Amniocentesis, but I refused, b/c of the high risk of miscarriage.

Ealex says:

I just wanted to add our story as it may be of some comfort. At my 32 week scan the doctor (who is one of the top mfm specialists in the US) measured my peanut’s long bones as below the fifth percentile/approximately 3 weeks behind. According to these scans his head and torso measured slightly ahead. I had additional scans, which showed the long bones growing but still below the fifth percentile.

At my scan at about 37 weeks the doctor estimated his weight as just shy of 7 pounds. It was clear to me at this scan that they couldnt capture the entire lenght of the bones they were looking at.

The peanut was born at 39 weeks and 3 days and weighed in at 6 pounds and is completely proportional. It seems that the scans were just off. He was much smaller overall than the doctor thought and his long bones were disproportionate because they measured his torso and head as larger than they were.

Kelly says:

I well at 18 weeks I was told I had a low lying placenta and I need it to wait until I was 31 weeks to see if it moved. Went. Back on 11/14/21011 and they told me that yes the placenta moved But then the donator comes inside and ask me and my husband wha’s our height and we are 5’1 and 5’7. We are not told but then the doctor says well the baby legs and arms are measuring 3 weeks behind and then he stars talking about dwarfism so I got really worry and star crying and he says that more likely this would not be the case. But he had already say it. I’m really worry I have talk to my Oby and she told me not to worry that she will be fine. I’ve been crying lot and I’m very stress out I have 7 year old girl and she is very supportive. Her my husband and my family have been very nice to me and they hope nothing but the best. I have to go back on dec 5 for onother ultrasound hopefully everything will be fine

Traci says:

I am worried as well. I am 23 weeks and had an ultrasound today. Everything has been fine up to this point in my pregnancy, but today I was told that (1.) our little guy has dilated or slightly enlarged ureter on both sides, (2.) my placenta is lying low, and (3.) the baby’s legs are measuring about two weeks behind. To say that I’m now totally stressed and worried is an understatement. The doctor says there is nothing to panic about, but they are sending me to a perinatal specialist. I just want to understand what all of this means… Are the things related? Do I need to be concerned about some kind of disorder (dwarfism, down’s, etc). I hate not knowing/not understanding everything. Anyone have any advice or experience or information that is helpful??

brittany says:

I am super glad I found this too. I am 29 wks and went to our main hospital in the state to have an US because I have gestational hypertension. They measured the baby and never said anything. She then asked me before she left how tall I am which I’m 5’4 my husband 5’6. The dr came in and said the babies legs are a little behind for his gestational age and that its most likely due to our height. I never had this problem with my oldest daughter, though. They then said they’ll follow up with me in 4wks. I am SO nervous that something may be wrong even though he told me the bones are growing perfect but just a little short. I hope the best outcome for everyone on here and I’ll update when I find out more info..! :)

Caroline says:

My daughter is 37 weeks. She’s had a tough pregnancy. She has pre-eclampsia and her blood pressure has been very high. She also has protein in the urine. This is her first child. She’s had lots of pain and swelling. Been on bedrest since last month. I took her yesterday to the doctor’s office. They decided she needed another sonogram and the baby girl’s head is large and measuring to be 43 weeks while the body is small and measuring to be 34 weeks. The sonographer took a really long time taking all these measurements over and over which thru up a red flag for us. I asked if everything looked okay and he said well, the baby’s body is smaller than it should be and the head is large. He told her not to get upset as over the next two weeks the baby could grow more. But, he also told her she didn’t have much room in the womb. I usually don’t freak out over this type of thing but I must admit, I’m scared for my daughter and the baby. Doctor is planning on inducing in two weeks. Does this size head seem “too” large. The baby’s bodyweight measured 5lbs-6oz.

Diana says:

Thanks to all of the people updating this website with their stories! (And to the original blog poster!) I too went searching the Internet after a 35 & 36 week u/s showed that the baby is very small (mid 4lbs to possibly 5lbs) and the leg bones are measuring 4-5 weeks behind, abdomen is 3-4 weeks behind, and head is only about a week behind. Neither my husband nor myself are tall (5’4″ & 5″6″), but our older daughter has always been in the 95th percentile for height and was born a large baby at 8lbs, 6oz… so I think that may be part of the reason that the scans for this baby are making them more nervous?? I’m unsure what they are going to advise me to do going forwards since my regular doctor appointment is this afternoon, but they did seem concerned about the size. It’s encouraging to hear all of the positive outcomes on this site!

Brenda says:

I had my son on 9/13 . he was 19 inches long and weight 7lbs. His head measured 131/2 inches. ultrasound can be wrong and cause alot of stress… on the other hand my son did end up having a ntd that was never seen on US (4 level 2 ultrasounds). he has spina bifida occulta w/ tethered cord. He will need surgery ti release the cord. He is expected to have a normal life. iim just glad he is here he is perfect in every way. When my afp came sooo high dr. Told me he would not walk it was better to terminate, but as i said everything looked okay in US.. i never stopped worrying.. but my baby is here yes he has a birth defect, but its not as bad as they scared me.

Fotini says:

I am 37 weeks and 4 days pregnant and my baby’s femur measures for 35 weeks and also has hydronephrosis 11.5 mm. Did any one have a similar experience?

Anna says:

Thank you to all for sharing your stories. This is they type of hope I was searching for online. My 18w, 22w, & 28w ultrasound all showed my little boy’s femur and humerus were 1.5 to 2 weeks behind. I try to stay optimistic but it doesn’t help when the ultrasound doctor tells me I should still consider down syndrome a possibility because he rarely sees the type of measurements I was given. So now I can’t help it, each day I worry whether he’ll be ok. If he doesn’t, will I be strong enough to accept him? Will my husband blame me for what happened? So many other negative thoughts run through my mind. But now, knowing that so many others have experienced the same thing has really helped eased my mind and I thank all of you ladies who came back to this board to share the outcome. I promise to do the same thing. =)

Jennifer says:

Brenda/Ashley – just wondering how things are going for you both – have you delivered yet?

abla says:

thanks so much ladies, i cant explain how relieved i am after reading yours posts. i was going via a hell of a time when i was told that my baby’s head is bigger than his legs and that he could be having megalencephaly or something like that at week 32. but with all your experiences, i now know that US can fail.
cant wait to hold my cutie in my arms

Amanda says:

I am so happy to come across this website. Most others haven’t been updated in years and it is so great to read these positive outcomes. I am 38wks and my little man’s femur is measuring 35wks. I was told not to worry but can’t help it. Thanks again for sharing your stories. I will update this when I know more to help others who find this site later.

Brenda says:

Jennifer- im sooo happy to for you & your baby.

Right now im 36 weeks pregnant after reading this I feel so much better. The only thing that worries me is why my baby’s afp was so elevated eventhough he does not have a NTD, ive read a whole lot of other health issues that cause it.

Jennifet says:

My son was born 7/31/11 at 37 1/2 weeks weighing 6 lbs, 4 oz and 17 inches long. He does not have dwarfism or any other issues! At his 2 week checkup he was already 7 lbs. 9 oz and 19 3/4 inches. Good luck to everyone, ultrasounds really can be wrong.

Ashley says:

It’s nice to know that others have had these issues. I’m 37 weeks with my 4th child. The first 3 had no issues, but this one is a different story. At about 33 weeks I started bleeding and the doctors didn’t have a clue as to why. They did 3 sonograms and didn’t find anything so they gave me the shots of betamethasone and sent me on my way Oh I didn’t mention that I went from being closed and thick to 3 cm and 80% effaced in about 4 days. I was on bed rest for 2 weeks. I had an ultrasound done this past monday and they said everything looked great and the baby was about 6lbs5oz but the femur bone was measuring small. I called yesterday to make sure everything was OK and that I didn’t have anything to worry about and the nurse said everything was fine. I get a call about an hour ago saying that I have to go again this coming monday (exactly 1 week from my last one) and get another sonogram to measure baby again. This will make 8 sonograms this pregnancy. At what point do I start freaking out?!? I will be almost 38 weeks next week so if the femur bone is still small will they induce me because the baby isn’t growing?? It’s so frusterating not having answers!

Brenda says:

Jennifer- I hope everything turned out well for you and your LO. I hope u can give us an update soon. I would like to know how everything went through, since we are in a similar situation.

Jennifer says:

So happy to hear this Shanelle. I’m almost 37 weeks and going through almost the exact same thing.

Brenda – I also had elevated AFP at 16 weeks – no spina bifidia was confirmed via ultrasound.

At last u/s 35w – my sons femurs were 4 weeks behind, humerous was 3 weeks behind and head was one week ahead. I can’t wait for him to be born. Doctors are saying there is a moderate risk he will have dwarfism. The stories here have really helped me feel more positive. Thank you!