Factors like premature birth and intrauterine
growth restrictions are responsible for low birth weight in babies. Let us find
more about the causes of low birth weight in babies.
When a new born baby weighs less than 2500 grams or 5 pounds and 8
ounces, it is said to be born with a low birth weight. On an average, a healthy
new born is born weighing 7 pounds. It is not desirable for a baby to weigh
less than 7 pounds as this can give rise to a multitude of health issues and
It has been noticed that around 7-8% babies are born with low birth
weight across the world and this rate is comparatively higher in certain
countries like America, Japan and Britain. Mostly low birth weight in babies are commonly found where there are instances of multiple births; then
the babies tend to get delivered early and therefore weigh less than average.
Babies with low birth weight not only appear smaller, but the head appears
larger in proportion to the rest of the body. The body looks too thin as the
body fat content is very low.
The Reasons for Low Birth Weight
Here are some of the common causes of low
birth weight in babies.
The principal cause leading to low birth weight is early or premature birth. Early birth denotes that the baby had lesser time to grow in the womb
of the mother, as the gestation period is below 37 weeks; thereby the weight
gained is simultaneously lesser than normal. It is to be noted that the baby
grows at maximum pace and gains the major part of its weight only during the
later part of the third trimester, that is, the late part of the pregnancy
IUGR or Intrauterine Growth Restriction
This is the other cause leading to low birth weight. Here, the natural
development and weight gain is restricted due to issues with the placenta, the
overall health of the mother or any other birth defect. It is possible that the
baby is born after completing the full term, that is 37 to 41 weeks and yet
have IUGR. So IUGR babies might be mature, but they are physically very weak.
Then again IUGR babies can be born early and thereby appear very small and are
People Most Affected By Low Birth Weight
Any baby with premature birth appears tiny and weak. Apart from the ones
mentioned above, there can be several other factors that lead to low birth weight
in babies, like:
Age – This refers to the age of the mother. If the mother happens to be a
teen, especially below 15-16 years, they are more likely to give birth to a
baby with low birth weight.
Race – There is a general trend that the Caucasian babies
are likely to be healthier than the African-American babies, who are more
likely to be born with low birth weight.
Multiple Births – Most multiple birth babies are born with low birth weight as they do
not get adequate time to mature. Usually over 50% of the twins and other multiple births are likely to be born with low birth weight.
The Health of The Mother – If the mother happens to be a
habitual smoker, drug addict or takes in alcohol regularly, the babies born to
them are more exposed to be born with a low birth weight. Then again if the
mother is unable to meet the nutritional requirements of
pregnancy, has insufficient prenatal care and/or suffers
from any other pregnancy related issues, the babies born are more likely to be
of low birth weight.
Therefore, it is very important to take adequate precautions during and
even before planning a pregnancy so that the baby is born healthy. However, if
the baby is born with low birth weight due to undue circumstances, special
attention needs to be paid so that the baby is well protected from all the
probable complications related to poor health and lack of immunity issues as
much as possible. Parents and the doctors must work in tandem to ensure that the
baby is kept warm, with adequate oxygen levels, protected from infections and
restored to good health as early as possible.