Low birth weight (LBW) is a term used when the new born baby weight less than 2.5 Kg, regardless of the gestational age of the baby. The average Indian new-born usually weighs between 2.5 to 2.9 Kgs. Birth weights is a strong indicator of the mother’s health and nutritional status and also the chances of survival of the new-born and long term health and development of the child. Subcategories of low birth weight include VLBW that is Very Low Birth Weight, which is less than 1.5kg and ELBW, Extremely Low Birth Weight, which is less than 1kg.
Baby weight in India varies, and 2 out of 10 full-term newborn babies are low birth weight. While some low birth weight babies are healthy, others may face serious health concerns. The baby weight and baby growth may increase concerns regarding the newborn baby care.
What are difference between prematurity and low birth weight?
Premature babies are those born before the 37th week of pregnancy. These babies may not have completed their growth and development and usually have low birth weight.
Low birth weight babies are full term babies, born after the 37th week of pregnancy but weigh less than 2500 gms. Out of every 10 low birth weight newborn babies, 7 are born premature. Baby weight during pregnancy is an important factor to consider in the treatment of low baby weight and baby growth.
What Cause for Low Birth Weight in New-born Babies?
- Babies that have an inherited medical condition, which may cause disease or disability after birth
- Multiple pregnancies as the space to grow in the womb is less
- Mother with pregnancy induced hypertension, which reduces blood flow to the baby, thereby reducing oxygen and nutrients to the baby
- Anemia in the mother
- History of miscarriage, still birth, previous low birth weight or preterm delivery
- Mother having asthma, diabetes and kidney disease
- Improper antenatal care
- Associated HIV/AIDS
- Stress or emotional problems
- Drinking or smoking
- Problems with the placenta like low lying placenta
- Infections in the mother
- Not enough weight gain during pregnancy
- Preterm labor
Effects of Low Birth Weight of Newborn Babies
The effect on low birth weight babies depends on duration of pregnancy and the new born baby weight
- Respiratory distress syndrome (RDS) or breathing problems
- Risk of infection is increased
- Blood sugar may be low
- Problems in feeding the baby
- Keeping the baby warm may be difficult
- The blood may become too thick because of increased number of red blood cells
How to Increase Baby Weight?
You can help increase baby weight and facilitate baby growth if you follow the below practices:
- Breastfeed the baby for healthy growth
- Get regular development and growth checks
- Keeping track of the baby’s weight gain and nutritional needs as it grows older
- Follow the doctor’s advice on the immunization schedule. This is very important as low birth weight babies are more susceptible to infections