What is the low birth weight?
Low birth weight may be a term wont to describe babies who are born weighing but 5 pounds, 8 ounces (2,500 grams). a mean newborn usually weighs about 8 pounds. A low-birth-weight infant could also be healthy albeit he or she is little. But a low-birth-weight infant also can have many serious health problems.
What causes low birth weight?
Low birth weight is most frequently caused by being born too early (premature birth). meaning before 37 weeks of pregnancy. A preterm baby has less time within the mother’s womb (uterus) to grow and gain weight. Much of a baby’s weight is gained during the last weeks of pregnancy.
Another explanation for low birth weight may be a condition called intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR). this happens when a baby doesn’t grow well during pregnancy. it’s going to be due to problems with the placenta, the mother’s health, or the baby’s health. Babies can have IUGR and be:
- Full term. meaning born from 37 to 41 weeks of pregnancy. These babies could also be physically mature, but small.
- Premature. These babies are both very small and physically immature.
Which babies are in danger for low birth weight?
In addition to premature birth and IUGR, things that affect the pregnant woman can increase the danger of getting a coffee birth weight baby. They include:
- Infection during pregnancy
- Not gaining enough weight during pregnancy
- Previous pregnancy with a low-birth-weight infant
- Alcohol or drug use
- Age but 17 or quite 35 years
- African-American background
What are the symptoms of low birth weight?
In addition to weighing but 5 pounds, 8 ounces, babies with low birth weight look much smaller than babies of normal birth weight. A low-birth-weight baby’s head may look bigger than the remainder of his or her body. He or she often looks thin with little body fat.
How is low birth weight diagnosed?
One of the most reasons for normal prenatal exams is to form sure your baby is growing well. During pregnancy, the dimensions of your baby are estimated in several ways. Your steady weight gain is a method of checking on the baby’s growth. differently is fundal height:
- To check fundal height, your healthcare provider measures from the highest of your pubis to the highest of your uterus (fundus).
- Fundal height is measured in centimeters (cm). it’s about an equivalent because of the number of weeks of pregnancy after the 20th week. for instance, at 24 weeks’ gestation, your fundal height should be on the brink of 24 cm.
- If the fundal height is a smaller amount than expected, it’s going to mean the baby isn’t growing well.
Your healthcare provider can also use a fetal ultrasound to see your baby’s growth and development. Ultrasound uses sound waves to make an image of your baby. it’s more accurate than checking fundal height. Measurements are often taken of your baby’s head, belly (abdomen), and upper long bone (femur). These measurements are wont to estimate his or her weight.
Babies are weighed within the primary few hours after birth. the load is compared against the amount of weeks of pregnancy (gestational age). If your baby weighs but 2,500 grams (5 pounds, 8 ounces), he or she features a low birth weight. Babies weighing but 1,500 grams (3 pounds, 5 ounces) at birth are considered very low birth weight. Babies who weigh but 1,000 grams (2 pounds, 3 ounces) are extremely low birth weight.
How is low birth weight treated?
Treatment will depend upon your child’s symptoms, age, and general health. it’ll also depend upon how severe the condition is.
Treatment for low birth weight often includes:
- Care within the neonatal medical care unit (NICU)
- Temperature-controlled bed
- Special feedings. Sometimes these are given through a tube into the stomach if a baby cannot suck. Or they’re given through an IV (intravenous) line.
How well a baby with low birth weight does depend largely on what proportion the baby weighs at birth. Babies who weigh but 1 pound, 1.5 ounces (500 grams) have the foremost problems and are much less likely to survive.
Low-birth-weight babies typically catch up in physical growth if they need no other complications. Babies may have to possess special follow-up healthcare programs.
What are possible complications of low birth weight?
Low-birth-weight babies often have problems. The baby’s tiny body isn’t as strong as a baby of normal birth weight. He or she may have a harder time eating, gaining weight, and fighting infection. Low-birth-weight babies often have a tough time staying warm because they don’t have much fat on their bodies.
Babies that are born premature often have complications. it’s sometimes hard to inform if the issues are because they were born early, or because they’re so small. generally , the lower the birth weight, the greater the danger for complications. a number of the common problems of low-birth-weight babies include:
- Low oxygen levels at birth
- Trouble staying warm
- Trouble feeding and gaining weight
- Breathing problems and immature lungs (infant respiratory distress syndrome)
- Nervous system problems, like bleeding inside the brain (intraventricular hemorrhage)
- Digestive problems, like serious inflammation of the intestines (necrotizing enterocolitis)
- Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
Babies with very low birth weight are in danger of long-term complications and disability. Long-term complications may include:
- Cerebral palsy
- Developmental delay
Talk together with your baby’s healthcare provider for information about your baby’s risks for complications.
Can low birth weight be prevented?
More babies are surviving albeit they’re born early and are very small. this is often due to advances within the care of sick and premature babies. But preventing preterm births is 1 of the simplest ways to stop babies born with low birth weight.
Regular prenatal care is that the best thanks to prevent preterm births and low-birth-weight babies. At prenatal visits, the healthcare provider will check the health of you and your baby. it’s important to:
- Follow a healthy diet during pregnancy. this may assist you to realize enough weight to assist your baby grow and assist you stay healthy.
- Not drink alcohol, smoke, or use drugs. All of those can cause low birth weight and other problems for your baby.
Key points about low birth weight
- Low birth weight may be a term wont to describe babies who are born weighing but 5 pounds, 8 ounces (2,500 grams).
- Babies weighing but 3 pounds, 5 ounces (1,500 grams) at birth are considered very low birth weight.
- Low birth weight is most frequently caused by premature birth.
- Nearly all low-birth-weight babies need special care within the neonatal medical care unit (NICU) until they gain weight and are tolerable to travel home.
- Regular prenatal care is that the best thanks to preventing preterm births and low-birth-weight babies.
Tips to assist you get the foremost from a visit to your child’s healthcare provider:
- Know the rationale for the visit and what you would like to happen.
- Before your visit, write down questions you would like answered.
- At the visit, write down the name of a replacement diagnosis, and any new medicines, treatments, or tests. Also, write down any new instructions your provider gives you for your child.
- Know why a replacement medicine or treatment is prescribed and the way it’ll help your child. Also, know what the side effects are.
- Ask if your child’s condition is often treated in other ways.
- Know why a test or procedure is suggested and what the results could mean.
- Know what to expect if your child doesn’t take the drugs or have the test or procedure.
- If your child features a follow-up appointment, write down the date, time, and purpose for that visit.
- Know how you’ll contact your child’s provider after office hours. this is often important if your child becomes ill and you’ve got questions or need advice.
- Donna Freeborn Ph.D. CNM FNP
- Heather Trevino
- Irina Burd MD PhD