The persistence of babies born at low birthweights (under 5 lbs 8 oz) or very low birthweights (under 1 lb, 10.5 oz) is a significant and complex public health issue. This brief outlines five recommended strategies for reducing the rate of low-birthweight babies born in the U.S.
Taking A Long-Term Approach To Women's and Men's Health May Help Reduce The Incidence of LBW
Findings & Stats
LBW and Preterm Correlation
The rate of low-birthweight births (less than 5 lbs, 8 oz) has increased 19% since 1990; the rate of preterm (before 37 weeks) has risen 21% over that same period.
In 2002, half of women of childbearing age were overweight or obese; 9% had diabetes.
Many pregnant women receive no prenatal care until the third trimester, ranging from 3.1% of women in New Hampshire to over 11% in Texas.
Mental Health and LBW
Studies have shown a correlation between maternal depression in the second trimester and slower development of the fetus.
Smoking and LBW
Women who smoke are twice as likely to have a LBW baby as those who don't smoke.
Nutrition and LBW
Women who gain less than 22 lbs. during pregnancy are 2 to 3 times more likely to deliver a LBW baby than those who gain at least 22 lbs.
Statements & Quotations
The rising rate of low-birthweight births in the United States is a vexing and persistent medical and social problem—but not an unsolvable one. There is growing consensus that the complex issues surrounding LBW and preterm births call for a broad strategy, one that addresses a wide range of risk factors. Just-in-time solutions—those introduced during pregnancy—are not sufficient.
Some researchers are studying the potential of education to break the LBW cycle. Maternal education has long been considered a key factor in infant health. Generally speaking, women with more years of education give birth to fewer children and engage in fewer behaviors that undermine their own health or place their pregnancies at risk
Subscribe to our newsletter to get our data, reports and news in your inbox.