DESiGN: Detection of small for gestational age fetus (SGA) - A cluster randomised controlled trial to evaluate the effect of the Growth Assessment Protocol (GAP) on perinatal outcomes.

This research is looking at how well we can identify babies who are smaller than expected (small for gestational age, or SGA) using the Growth Assessment Protocol (GAP) programme.

Most SGA babies are healthy. But some are small because of a health issue, and these babies are at risk if they aren’t monitored closely. If we find better ways of identifying SGA babies, we could potentially reduce the risk of stillbirth.

GAP is a programme that involves training staff, using growth charts based on characteristics of the mother and baby (customised charts) and which are linked to care guidelines, and checking and comparing the performance of hospitals and units using it.

Lead researcher: Dr Dharmintra Pasupathy, Senior Clinical Lecturer and Consultant in Maternal & Fetal Medicine and Perinatal Epidemiology in the Department of Women and Children's Health, King's College London

What the researchers will do:

The DESiGN study is comparing what happens in units and hospitals that do and do not use GAP. It will investigate whether using GAP improves the detection of SGA babies. The researchers will also look at the cost of using GAP and how GAP is used in maternity units.

What we expect from the study:

DESiGN will help answer some of the questions around the detection of SGA babies. It should also provide some useful information for maternity services that are trying to improve systems for detecting SGA babies.

Sum awarded: £40,000

Other funders: Guys and St Thomas’s; Tommy’s

Duration of study: 2 years, ending 2018