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Low Birth Weight

Low Birth Weight

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What is low birth weight?

Most full term babies who are born between 37 and 40 weeks weigh between 2.5 and 4 Kg. A baby is considered as having a low birth weight if he/she weighs less than 2.5 Kg at birth. A low birth weight baby can be healthy,however, may need a little extra care and attention.

Wednesday, September 6th, 2017

What leads to low birth weight?

There are two main reasons for low birth weight of babies:

  • Preterm or premature birth; that is being born before completing 37 weeks
  • Inadequate weight gain of the baby during pregnancy due to some factors that can slow down or stop the growth of the baby in the womb.

Can your health during pregnancy affect your baby’s weight?

Yes, some factors may increase your risk of low birth weight baby. These include:

You can reduce your risk of having a low birth weight baby with proper prenatal care such as getting your vaccinations on time, eating healthy , avoiding smoking or drinking alcohol and reducing stress in your life .

  • Behaviours like smoking drinking alcohol
  • Infections during pregnancy
  • Certain medications
  • High blood pressure
  • Inadequate weight gain during pregnancy

Do low birth weight babies need special nutrition?

Exclusive breastfeeding to low birth weight babies has been found to help catch-up growth and protect babies from diahrroea and respiratory infection.

Initially, LBW babies have to stay separate from their mothers for long time, and this can disrupt the breastfeeding routine. However, it is very important to breastfeed a LBW baby during this time.

Expressing milk: Sometimes, a LBW baby cannot suckle well initially. In this scenario the mother can express her milk by hand or by using a breast pump and ensure that the baby gets the breast milk. In case an LBW baby needs extended hospitalisation and mother is discharged earlier, she can express her breast milk so that the hospital staff can feed it to the child.

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