WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?
Babies with low birth weights face increased risks of infection, impaired development, developmental delays, and higher rates of infant death.[i] They are more likely to suffer from long-term disabilities, including cerebral palsy and blindness. Low birth weight can be influenced by a number of factors, including maternal and fetal health. For example, women who use tobacco, have poor nutrition, consume alcohol, or use illegal or some prescription drugs while pregnant are at increased risk of giving birth to low-weight babies.[ii] Chronic conditions including diabetes, heart defects, and kidney disease can also increase a woman’s risk of giving birth to a low-weight baby.
[i] Michael Msall and Michelle Tremont, “Measuring Functional Outcomes after Prematurity: Developmental Impact of very Low Birth Weight and Extremely Low Birth Weight Status on Childhood Disability,” Mental Retardation & Developmental Disabilities Research Reviews 8, no. 4 (2002): 258-272.
[ii] Christine Demont-Heinrich, “Risk of Very Low Birth Weight Based on Perinatal Periods of Risk,” Public Health Nursing 31, no. 3 (2014): 234.