What Is Low Birth Weight And Its Main Causes

After a full term of pregnancy, a baby is born with body weight ranging between 2500 to 4200 grams in order to live a normal functional life. However, very often some of these babies are born with exceptionally lesser weight than medically considered as ideal. These babies need critical care and are often kept at special care units of maternity hospitals.

Low Birth Weight Baby

As per World Health Organization, babies having a body weight of 2499 grams or less are considered as low birth weight. This is further subdivided into very low birth weight (having less than 1500 gram) and extremely low birth weight (having less than 1000 grams).

Having a low birth weight puts the baby subjected to developing a wide number of medical complications, both in short term and in long term.

Causes of low birth weight

The low birth weight is either caused due to preterm birth or due to being small for the gestational or environmental factor of the prenatal growth and development.

Preterm birth

The gestational period ideally consists of 37 weeks and any pregnancy than matures before this duration is considered as preterm birth. Being born before the ideal time than the baby is supposed to, results in making the baby susceptible to multiple medical issues and being born with a low birth weight is one of them.

Preterm Birth

Being small for gestational age

As already mentioned, the gestational duration does play an important role. However, some babies born with low birth weight even with a full term. This happens when the baby is doing full term but is underdeveloped with respect to his or her age. It is often a result of some or the other medical or genetic condition. As any malnourished individual would perform less and will be less immunized, the rules apply same for an infant only to a bigger proportion.

Being small for gestational age

Environmental factors

Several factors such as a young age of mother, previous low birth weight babies, multiple pregnancies, poor nutrition, substance abuse and malnourished prenatal stage etc contribute towards negatively affecting the birth weight of the baby. It also includes exposure to smoke, pollutant air, water, lead and other toxic substances as well.

Environmental factors

As already mentioned, the babies having a low birth weight is highly likely to suffer immense adverse health conditions. Thus, every family having an expectant mother is advised to take proper care of the mother and the child in every aspect to ensure a safe pregnancy and healthy child. In case of any doubt, it is always wise to approach a maternity hospital as soon as possible.