DefinitionLow birth weight (LBW) infants are those weighing less than 2,500 grams (5 lbs 8 oz) at birth, regardless of gestational age.
The low birth weight rate is the number of live born infants who weigh less than 2,500 grams, divided by the total number of live births over the same time period.
NumeratorNumber of live born infants weighing under 2,500 grams in the resident population for a specific time period.
DenominatorTotal number of live births in the resident population for a specific time period.
Why Is This Important?Low birth weight is an important factor affecting neonatal mortality, and a significant determinant of postneonatal mortality. The two main reasons a baby may be born with low birth weight are premature birth (birth before 37 weeks of pregnancy) and fetal growth restriction. Compared to infants of a normal weight, low birth weight infants are at increased risk of infection, impaired immune function, delayed motor and social development, learning disabilities and poor school performance.^1, 2^
1. Hack M, Klein NK, Taylor HG. Long-term developmental outcomes of low birth weight infants. Future Child. 1995; 5(1): 176-196.
2. U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Reproductive and birth outcomes: low birth weight. [http://ephtracking.cdc.gov/showRbLBWGrowthRetardationEnv.action]. Accessed November 5, 2018.
Healthy People Objective: Low birth weight (LBW)U.S. Target: 7.8 percent
Other ObjectivesTitle V Maternal and Child Health Services Block Grant to States Program:
National Outcome Measure 4.1 - Percent of low birth weight deliveries
For more information:
The Alaska Medicaid Program has set a target of 6.1% of low birth deliveries for all live births with the Medicaid program in Alaska by 2023.
For more information:
How Are We Doing?In 2017, 6.2% of live births for all Alaskans were low birth weight in Alaska, a significant increase from the 4.8% recorded for the state in 1990. Live births to Alaska mothers enrolled in Medicaid had significantly higher rates of low birth weight than those not enrolled in Medicaid, 7.4% compared to 4.9% in 2017.
Alaska Whites had lower rates of low birth weight than births to Asian/Pacific Islanders or Blacks in 2017. There were no consistently significant regional differences in low birth weight in Alaska during 2013-2017.
How Do We Compare With the U.S.?In 2017, 6.2% of live births were low birth weight in Alaska, compared to 8.3% in the U.S.^3^ Alaska as a whole has had consistently lower rates of low birth weight than the average for the U.S.
3. Hamilton BE, Martin JA, Osterman MJK, Driscoll AK, Rossen LM.
Births: Provisional data for 2017. Vital Statistics Rapid Release; no 4.
Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. May 2018.[https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/vsrr/report004.pdf]. Accessed on November 1, 2018.
What Is Being Done?Prevention of unintended pregnancy as well as early and continuous prenatal care may improve infant outcomes. According to the U.S. Surgeon General, women who quit smoking before or during pregnancy reduce the risk of preterm delivery and LBW. Furthermore, women who stop smoking by the first trimester have infants with weight and body measurements comparable with those of nonsmokers. Studies suggest that smoking in the third trimester is particularly detrimental to fetal growth.^4^
4. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Consequences of Smoking-50 Years of Progress: A Report of the Surgeon General, 2014. [http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/reports/50-years-of-progress/]. Published 2014. Accessed November 5, 2018.
Evidence-based PracticesThe Annie E. Casey Foundation has prepared the KIDS COUNT Indicator Brief on Preventing Low Birth Weight.^5^
This KIDS COUNT Indicator Brief describes five strategies that are essential to any plan aimed at reducing the rate of LBW births:
[[br]]Expand access to medical and dental services, taking a lifespan approach to health care
[[br]]Focus intensively on smoking prevention and cessation
[[br]]Ensure that pregnant women get adequate nutrition
[[br]]Address demographic, social, and environmental risk factors
[[br]]Support sustained research on the causes of LBW.
Other rigorously evaluated programs have been shown to be effective for minimizing negative outcomes for low birthweight infants:
[[br]]Nurse-Family Partnership [http://www.childtrends.org/?programs=nurse-family-partnership]
[[br]]Early Intervention Program For Low Birth Weight Infants [http://www.childtrends.org/?programs=early-intervention-program-for-low-birth-weight-infants]
[[br]]Infant Health and Development Program (IHDP) [http://www.childtrends.org/?programs=infant-health-and-development-program-ihdp]
[[br]]Transactional Model of Early Home Intervention [http://www.childtrends.org/?programs=transactional-model-of-early-home-intervention]
5. The Annie E. Casey Foundation. KIDS COUNT Indicator Brief Preventing Low Birth Weight. July 2009. [http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED507776.pdf]. Accessed November 5, 2018.