There are some women who will have low birth weight babies. This means that the baby weighs under 2.5 kg, which is 5lb 80z in imperial measurements. This is usually seen in babies that are born early, which come under a different categorization, but there are around seven percent born full term with low birth weights.
The reason for low birth weight babies
Not all babies born with low birth weights mean that there is something wrong. In fact, many are due to being born into naturally small families; there are usually patterns which can be seen from parents and in siblings. This is commonly seen in parents who have a height smaller than average.
However, there are other reasons why babies will be born small and light. The most common reason without medical conditions is due to there being twins – or more than that.
This is due to them being born earlier than single babies and not having too much room while they are growing in the uterus. Premature babies are also born small since they have not had the full term to grow to their full capabilities.
Medical conditions are the next common reason for small babies. There may be a medical condition that affects the baby or a medical condition that affects the mother, which in turn affects the baby. High blood pressure is extremely common in pregnant women and often leads to low birth weight babies. Another problem is when there has been a low flow of blood to the baby due to a placenta problem; a lack of nutrients will prevent the baby from developing fully.
What is the affect on low birth weight babies?
Most babies with a low birth weight will develop fully and healthily, especially if it was due to a premature birth. However, there are other problems that a child may have; some of these problems will not occur until later in life. Mental and physical problems during later life are usually linked to the reason for the low birth weight and not due to the actual weight the baby was.
The most common problem is difficulty in staying warm. This is usually due to the lack of development that has occurred. Being hypoglycemic (low blood sugar) or the red blood cell count being high are two other occurrences.
There are some links to the ability for the child to learn at a later age; however, it is worth noting that the evidence for this is mixed. For some babies, the brain will not be able to develop enough and so the child will suffer from a low intelligence. For other babies, the brain will have not been affected at all and other times, a strong support system will have helped to overcome this.
Helping low birth weight babies
Parents can do a lot to help their baby grow and develop, even while out of the womb. Most doctors and midwives will recommend breastfeeding, which offers all the nutrients that the baby will need. Regular checkups will also help to counter any problems of low birth weights, along with a nutritious diet.