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Is Your Newborn a Low Birth Weight Baby? Know the Causes, Consequences, and Long-Term Effects

By Teddyy 1 Jun 2024
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Newborns symbolise the beginning of a life’s journey. The arrival of these tiny humans is a moment of immense joy for parents. However, a concern many new parents experience is the baby’s weight. If it is slightly below the normal weight of a newborn baby, it causes a lot of anxiety for the new parents. The truth is that not all infants are born with an ideal weight. Sometimes, a newborn is tinier than others and is known as a “low birth weight baby.”

What Is A Low Birth Weight Baby? 

A low birth weight baby is born weighing less than 5.5 pounds or 2.5 kilograms. These little humans may be full-term or premature, and their small size can have various different reasons. While a low birth weight baby could simply be petite, others might face a more challenging start to life due to factors beyond control.

The normal baby weight at birth for a full-term newborn is typically between 5.5 – 8.8 pounds (2.5 to 4 kilograms), but small variations are natural. Nevertheless, the weight of a newborn is a critical indicator of their overall health and development in the future and should not be neglected.

What Causes A Baby To Have A Low Birthweight?

There can be various reasons why your bundle of joy is below the normal weight of a newborn baby. Here are some of the factors resulting in a low birth weight baby:

Premature Birth: The most common reason for low newborn baby weight is premature delivery, birth before the 37th week of pregnancy. Since the time to grow within the womb wasn’t enough to reach the normal birth weight, it resulted in lower birth weight in the baby.

Mother’s Health: The physical and emotional health of the mother plays a significant role in determining the infant’s birth weight. Poor diet, infections, chronic conditions, substance abuse during pregnancy, or any mental distress like depression can affect the baby’s normal birth weight in the womb.

Teenage Pregnancy: Teenage mothers are more likely to have a low birth weight baby as the amount of stress is higher, leading to inadequate prenatal care, poor nutrition, and their own physical immaturity.

Multiple Pregnancy: In the case of twins or triplets, the babies can be born with lower than normal birth weight as they have to share the space and nutrients in the womb.

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Does A Low Birth Weight (LBW) Cause Problems For The Baby?

An LBW baby is undeniably a tiny warrior, but it can be a cause for concern. It doesn’t predict the future health or well-being of the newborn. However, lower than normal birth weight does have a risk due to their underdeveloped systems and may require intensive medical care. The most common problems are:

Respiratory Distress Syndrome (RDS): A premature, low birth weight baby can experience RDS, a condition where their underdeveloped lungs cannot function efficiently. They may require artificial ventilation and therapy to help them breathe.

Infection Risk: A low birth weight baby can have a weak immune system, making them susceptible to infections and problems like jaundice that can be taken care of through antibiotics and other treatments.

Temperature Regulation: The body temperature in an LBW baby can fluctuate very easily due to limited body fat. They may require incubators or radiant warmers to maintain a stable temperature.

Feeding Problems: A baby with a lower than normal birth weight may face difficulty in latching and breastfeeding. They may require specialized feeding techniques or dependency on formula milk to ensure they receive adequate nutrition.

Does A Low Weight At Birth Cause Problems Later In Life?

Whether a low birth weight baby faces problems later in life is a complex one to answer. While there might be an association between low birth weight and certain health issues, it’s important to remember that it does not imply that normal baby weight at birth could have been the solution.

Many LBW babies go on to live healthy lives with no significant health issues. Others may face challenges but overcome them with the right support and medical care. Many healthcare professionals study the effects of LBW to identify risk factors and provide support to your tiny warriors.

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What is a low birth weight?

A newborn baby weight below the average birth weight, usually below 2.5 to 4 kilograms, is considered a low birth weight.

What are the 3 categories of low birth weight?
  • Extremely Low Birth Weight (ELBW): Birth weight of less than 1,000 grams (2.2 pounds)
  • Very Low Birth Weight (VLBW): Birth weight of less than 1,500 grams (3.3 pounds)
  • Low Birth Weight (LBW): Birth weight between 1,500 and 2,499 grams (3.3 to 5.5 pounds)
What kg is low birth weight?

Low birth weight baby is typically less than 2,500 grams, equivalent to 2.5 kilograms or 5.5 pounds.

What causes low baby weight?

The most common factor is premature delivery or the mother’s poor health during pregnancy.

What are the risks of low birth weight?

A low birth weight baby can have a healthy life with proper diet and care. In some cases of health complications, medical care is advised.

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