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Prenatal assessment of gestational age, date of delivery, and fetal weight

Andrew P MacKenzie, MD
Courtney D Stephenson, DO
Edmund F Funai, MD
Section Editor
Deborah Levine, MD
Deputy Editor
Vanessa A Barss, MD, FACOG


Ultrasonography has advanced obstetric practice by enabling relatively detailed assessment of the fetus, including an accurate estimate of gestational age when performed before 22+0 weeks of gestation. This information is invaluable because most diagnostic and management decisions during pregnancy are strongly influenced by consideration of fetal development, which closely correlates with fetal age.

Fetal biometric measurements used to calculate gestational age and estimated date of delivery ("due date" or EDD) will be reviewed here. The value of routine prenatal sonography is reviewed separately. (See "Routine prenatal ultrasonography as a screening tool", section on 'Benefits of routine prenatal ultrasound examination'.)


Gestational age – The discussion of gestational age in this topic is based on time since the last menstrual period (LMP), which is also called "menstrual age".

In contrast, the "postconception age" or "embryonic age" is based on the time since conception, and thus is 14 days less than the gestational or menstrual age in a woman with a 28 day menstrual cycle. The terms postconception and embryonic age are not used clinically when discussing pregnancy, but are used by embryologists and dysmorphologists to describe early developmental events.

Estimated date of delivery (EDD) – The EDD is 280 days from the onset of the last menstrual period (LMP) and 266 days from date of conception. Only 4 percent of women deliver on their EDD, in part because of the limitations of methods used to estimate gestational age, but also because of natural biologic variation in the pace of fetal maturation and the timing of natural delivery [1].

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Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: Nov 08, 2017.
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