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Weight of a new born baby indicates the health of the baby. When a baby is born after full time of pregnancy, weighs 2500 gms to 4200 gms. Its normal weight, but if it is less than 2500 gms its low birth weight and below 1500 gms or even less than 1000 gms are extremely low birth weight. Such babies are required to be kept in NICU.

Its obvious that premature babies who have born after just 37 weeks or even before, may be of low birth weight. Premature babies couldn’t get sufficient time to grow. Multiple babies are also of low birth weight, because generally multiple babies also born premature, and if they are not premature even then they couldn’t get sufficient space to grow. So they are of low birth weight. But why the singleton babies who are born after full time are of low birth weight?

The most obvious reason is malnutrition. During pregnancy mother should take healthy diet and avoid junk food. If the mother is suffering from high blood pressure, the flow of blood towards the fetus will be less and there will be scarcity of oxygen and nutrient in fetus. Mother suffering from health problem like anemia, diabetes or any other health problem may lead to low birth weight of baby. Other causes of low birth weight are as follows:

  • Any abnormality in uterus
  • Any problem in placenta leads to less blood supply
  • Any infection either in mother or baby
  • Chromosomal abnormality
  • Mother emotionally disturbed
  • Mother consuming drugs, alcohol or smoking
  • Gender and health of the baby
  • Race and ethnicity
  • Health and size of parents

Low birth weight effects are serious. The baby is affected badly after birth and even in later life also. It is not an established fact that the baby’s later life will be affected. It is difficult to predict , how the baby will do in future. But just after birth , since the immune system is not well developed, so chances of getting infection increases. The baby may suffer from breathing difficulties, heart problem, jaundice etc. The baby needs special care in NICU. In extreme case some serious problem may happen. Internal bleeding, very thick blood (polycythaemia), excessive R.B.C. in blood, low body temperature, low blood sugar(hypoglycemia), intestinal problem, vision problem etc.

Infant mortality within first year is caused mainly by low birth weight. Small percentages of such babies develop mental retardation. Chances of Type-2 diabetes and in later years obesity can’t be ruled out.

The pregnant women should consult the doctor and get check up in regular interval. If there is any problem detected earlier, you can prevent the baby from any serious health problem. If the weight of a pregnant woman increases by 25-35 lbs during pregnancy, it means the growth of the baby is normal. Mother should be provided with healthy and stress free environment.

A baby with low birth weight should be given breastfeeding. Get the baby regularly its developmental check up. After 6-7 months healthy baby food along with breast feeding and proper care will help the baby gain normal growth rate.