LOW BIRTH WEIGHT
Low birth weight in babies is a condition whereby baby weighs much less than 2.5kg at the time of birth. Anything less than 2.5kg is a low birth weight.
The averaged weight of a baby is about 3.5kg, although 2.5kg to 4.5kg is still considered normal.
In extreme cases the baby’s weight could be less than 1kg which is considered an extremely low birth weight.
- Boys are always weightier than girls.
- First babies are always lighter than later siblings.
- Large parents generally have large babies, while small parents generally have small babies.
Newborns often lose (226.8 g) in the first 4 to 5 days after birth but regain it by about 10 to 12 days of age. In the first month, the typical newborn gains about 20g in a day, or about 110g to 226.8g a week.
LENGTH OF A NEWBORN
The average length of full-term babies at birth is 50 cm, although the normal range is 45.7 cm to 60 cm. In the first month, babies typically grow 1.5 4 cm to 5 cm.
Studies indicate that about 70% of all low birth weight babies are
born preterm whereby they are born before completing the 37 weeks of pregnancy.
The remaining 30% of low birth weight babies are usually born at full term, however, did not grow properly in the womb.
CAUSES OF LOW BIRTH WEIGHT
The main causes of Low Birth Weight are
- Early delivery (preterm birth. Preterm birth, which is defined as a gestational age less than 37)
- poor fetal growth
- Mothers aged under 17 and over 35 years
- Pregnant mothers with unhealthy lifestyles e.g smoking
- Multiple gestation(twins, triplets etc)
- lack of skilled antenatal care
- Poor nutrition both before and during pregnancy. Decades of chronic under nutrition among women in developing populations were not likely to be overcome by a few months of extra nutrient intake during the course of a single pregnancy. Every women must be careful enough to take balanced diet
- preeclampsia. (this is a condition where blood flow to the fetus is reduced leading to a restriction of flow of nutrient to the fetus)
EFFECTS OF LOW BIRTH WEIGHT
Babies born with low birth weight cause a great deal of concern since according to health scientists these babies may be more likely than babies born at a normal weight to have certain health conditions later in life, including diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, metabolic syndrome.
- Higher risks of neonatal death (death within the first one month after birth) about 40% to 80%
- Post-neonatal death. (death after the first one month of birth)
- Morbidity – this is a stage of being disease. (e.g impaired cognitive function psychological disorders and coronary heart disease)
Babies with low birth weight have higher death rates at later childhood and adolescence
WAYS TO PREVENT LOW BIRTH WEIGHT
- Early prenatal care. This helps to detect any medical problems such as gestational diabetes and preeclampsia. (This is a condition where blood flow to the fetus is reduced leading to a restriction of flow of nutrient to the fetus).
Every pregnant mother should start proper antenatal care as soon as they discover that they are pregnant.
- Abstinence from alcohol and smoking. Smoking and alcohol have been linked to an increase in low birth weight.
- Good nutrition and healthy weight gain (adequate Prenatal nutrition).
- Proper intake of folic acid and folic acid rich food.