- Percentage of infants weighing less than 2500 grams (5 pounds, 8 ounces) at birth.
Low Birthweight is the percentage of live births of infants weighing less than 2,500 grams (5 pounds, 8 ounces). The 2014 ranks are based on 2012 birth certificates from the National Vital Statistics System.
The incidence of low birthweight varies from a low of 5.7% of live births in Alaska to a high of 10% or more in Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana. The national average incidence is 8.0% of live births. Healthy People 2020 objectives include reducing low birthweight to 7.8% of live births.
Low birthweight babies are more likely than babies of normal weight to have health problems during the newborn period. Serious medical problems are most common in babies born at very low birthweight (less than 1,500 grams) and include respiratory distress syndrome; bleeding in the brain; patent ductus arteriosus, a heart problem common in premature babies; necrotizing enterocolitis, an intestinal problem that usually develops 2 to 3 weeks after birth; and retinopathy of prematurity, an abnormal growth of blood vessels in the eye that can lead to vision loss., There may also be a connection between many chronic diseases in adulthood and low birthweight, including type 2 diabetes and coronary heart disease., Babies born with low birthweight are often born preterm or have inadequate growth for other reasons. Low birthweight may occur as a result of inadequate clinical care in the prenatal period. Through regular clinical visits, the health of the mother can be assessed, health risks can be identified, and steps can be taken to improve the mother’s health and her risk for preterm birth. Low birthweight is associated with many characteristics of the mother such as smoking status, nutritional status, and psychosocial problems. Successful prevention strategies include:
- Expanding access to medical and dental services and taking a lifespan approach to health care;
- Focusing intensively on smoking prevention and cessation;
- Ensuring that pregnant women get adequate nutrition;
- Addressing demographic, social, and environmental risk factors.
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 Luyckx VA, Bertram JF, Brenner BM, et al. Effect of fetal and child health on kidney development and long-term risk of hypertension and kidney disease. The Lancet. 2013;382(9888):273-283.
 Shore R, Shore B. Preventing low birthweight. KIDS COUNT indicator brief. Annie E. Casey Foundation. 2009 http://www.aecf.org/KnowledgeCenter/Publications.aspx?pubguid=%7B950E85EE-C2B4-466E-AA20-AE2010384A17%7D