Low Birthweight Baby

Affecting about one in every 13 births, a low birthweight baby is a fairly common occurance. However, if your baby is born with a low birthweight, she may be at an increased risk of experiencing serious health problems as an infant as well as long-term disabilities as an adult.

How Low?
Any baby born weighing less than 5lbs, 8oz (2500grams) is thought to be a low birth weight baby. If your child is born weighing less than 3lbs, 5oz (1500grams), he is thought to be a very low birthweight baby. Generally, low birthweight babies fall into two categories: those that have a low birthweight because they were born before term and those whose low birthweight is the result of being small for their gestational age. The most common causes of low birthweight include:

  • Tobacco use
  • Alcohol use
  • Drug use (particularly cocaine)
  • Poor nutrition
  • Excessive stress and anxiety
  • Inadequate prenatal care
  • Chronic maternal illness
  • Premature labor
  • Low weight of mother
  • Inadequate placenta
  • Genetic disorders
  • Short interval between pregnancies

What You Can Do
If you are conscientious about your medical care and self care, you can drastically reduce the risk of having a low birth weight baby. If you think you may have reason to worry about the possibility of having a low birthweight baby, you should bring your concerns to the attention of your practitioner. An exam or ultrasound can be done to reassure you that your fetus is growing at a normal pace.

Other things that you can do to ensure you have a baby with a healthy weight include:

  • Getting regular prenatal care throughout your pregnancy
  • Taking prenatal vitamins throughout your pregnancy as well as folic acid, which has been found to reduce the chances of preterm labor
  • Managing chronic problems, like diabetes, properly
  • Quitting smoking, drinking alcohol and using narcotics
  • Following a healthy, well-balanced diet throughout your pregnancy

Even if it does turn out that your baby is smaller, there are several steps that your health care provider can take to improve your baby's condition.

Talk with other women about your pregnancy concerns in our forum


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