low birth weight infants problems

Low Birth Weight Babies 101: The Essential Guide

The average weight of full-term babies (41 weeks) is about 7 lbs (3.2 kg). However, some babies are born with certain birthing complications. For instance, some may be larger than the average size, and some, low birth weight babies.

What is Low Birth Weight?

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), if your baby is born less than 2 kgs at birth (i.e., less than 5 pounds, 8 ounces) he or she is of low birth weight, regardless of the gestational age.  

1 in 12 babies, that is around 8% are born as low birth weight infants across the world.

What Are The Causes Of Low Birth Weight?

During your pregnancy, you often visit the doctor to check if you are fine health-wise and whether your baby is growing properly or not. If your healthcare provider thinks that your little one’s growth may be restricted, he or she will take you through ultrasound scans often every 2 to 4 weeks. In fact, low birth weight babies can either be born premature or full-term and there are several reasons why a baby may be born, low birth weight. The reasons are as follows: 

Problems With The Placenta

The placenta is essential for foetal development. It provides the all-essential nutrients and oxygen via the umbilical cord blood. Placental complications may disrupt the natural oxygen and nutritional supply to the developing baby inside you, thus not impacting the baby’s growth inside and outside you, positively.

Uterine Complications

When your healthcare practitioner sees abnormalities in the uterus like: 

  • heart-shaped uterus.
  • muscular barrier in the uterus.
  • slightly dipped uterus.
  • inner cavities in the uterus with a separate cervix and vagina may result in slow growth in the baby inside, birth defects, and low birth weight of your infant.
uterine complications
Source: cdnparenting

Foetal Growth Restriction

Placental problems (as mentioned above), pregnancy infections, pregnancy hypertension and other health conditions are some of the reasons behind Foetal growth restriction, which is also known as Intrauterine Growth Restriction (IUGR). So, due to Intrauterine Growth Restriction (IUGR), the baby inside does not grow very well and you may give birth to a low-birth-weight baby.

History Of Low Birthweight

If you have had a low birthweight or premature baby in the past, you may have the same experience as well.

Multiple Pregnancies

If you have twin or triplets or more, there are chances the baby or babies you deliver would be low birth weight. As the babies will not get enough space to develop well in your womb. 

Substance Abuse During Pregnancy

If you drink or smoke during your pregnancy, it can disrupt the oxygen supply to the little one inside and can delay the growth of the baby in your womb, thus resulting in low birth weight.

Lack Of Nutrition During Pregnancy

During your pregnancy, you’re supposed to have a healthy and well-balanced diet. However, lack of nutrition during your pregnancy may affect your newborn’s weight.

Chronic Pregnancy Health Conditions

There are several chronic health conditions that can cause a baby to be born with low birth weight, including high blood pressure, diabetes, heart, lung, and kidney problems.

Infections During Pregnancy

During pregnancy infections including rubella, chickenpox, sexually transmitted infections, etc can give rise to low birth weight babies. 


If you are more than 35 years old, you are more susceptible to giving birth to a baby, who is low birth weight.

What Are The Complications Of Low Birth Weight Babies? 

In this condition, your baby may be under neonatal care, after birth and might even have to stay in the hospital for a few weeks to check for the most common condition like Jaundice, till such time that he or she is healthy and fine to be back home. 

How Can You Treat Low Birth Weight In Your Baby During Pregnancy?

Well! An early detection is prevention. Therefore, during your prenatal doctor visits, your healthcare practitioner will use different types of techniques like:

  • Taking the fundal measurement from the 20th week of your pregnancy, thus measuring height of the baby in your womb.
  • Taking picture of baby’s head, bones and abdomen through scans during your pregnancy.
  • Checking your weight and suggesting you to keep your weight under control.
  • Checking your diet, and suggesting you a diet which might be good for your baby’s development in your womb.
  • Checking your health conditions and suggesting you to follow ways and keep these conditions under check. 

Are There Ways To Overcome Low Birth Weight In Your Newborn Baby?

Even after following the prenatal treatment methods, you may not be able to help yourself from giving birth to a low birth weight baby. In this case, there are ways to overcome the condition and they are as follows: 

  • Take your little one for regular check-up to keep the developmental milestones under control
  • Breast milk is the best nutrition for your low birth weight newborn. Continue breastfeeding to help your little one grow. 
  • Introduce your little one to solid right after he or she has crossed the half year mark (6 months). 
  • Give him or her medicines taking suggestions from your child’s specialist. 

Being patient is key! We know it is normal for you to feel worried when it is about your baby’s health and well-being. However, you needn’t worry much! Keep consulting your gynaecologist during your pregnancy and don’t forget to consult the paediatrician for your child, after birth.

Also follow our blog page to get some more advise on pregnancy, baby care and the benefits of cord blood banking.

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