Low birth weight (LBW)—defined as under 2,500 g—is a public health issue associated with higher child mortality as well as physical and mental health problems later in life. It is more prevalent in developing countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, and Ethiopia has one of the highest rates in the world. However, there has been little research to date on how to lessen its impact.
A team led by Dr. Mekuanint Taddele, from the College of Health Sciences at Debre Markos University, published a study in the Journal of Pregnancy examining the factors associated with LBW in babies born in Dangla Primary Hospital, Ethiopia, from September 2016 to June 2017. They recruited a random sample of 232 mothers of newborns, and obtained a 94% response rate to their questionnaire. Of the 217 participating mothers, slightly over 10% had given birth to LBW infants.
The researchers found that three factors were significantly associated with LBW: no supplementary food intake during pregnancy, a previous history of delivering LBW infants, and a gestational age of less than 37 weeks. There were no clear associations between LBW and any of the sociodemographic factors assessed.
In conclusion, the authors recommended that health institutions take particular note of obstetric history, and stress the importance of a balanced diet during pregnancy, in order to reduce the prevalence of LBW in their communities.
This blog post is distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC-BY). Illustration by David Jury.