It is every mother’s wish to bring in a healthy infant into the world. The first thing that comes to all mommies’ minds with respect to health is their baby’s birth weight. The more the baby weighs, the happier the mother feels! And, if the baby is born with low weight, it can become a cause of concern for everyone in the family.
So, what is considered as low birth weight? Generally, weight less than 2.5 kilograms is considered to be low birth weight (1). And, if the weight is less than 1 kilogram, it is categorized as extremely low birth weight (2).
If the tiny tot’s birth weight is this less, it increases the chances of breathing issues, infections, gastrointestinal problems, and even neurological issues. Given that the birth weight can affect a baby’s health, a discussion on its causes becomes mandatory. So, here we are bringing you 7 causes of low birth weight:
1. Premature Birth
If an infant is born anytime before the beginning of the 37th week of the gestation period, the birth is referred to as premature (3). In such a scenario, the baby does not stay long enough in the womb to develop fully. This means that the tiny tot has also not gained the weight he/she was supposed to over the last few weeks. Thus, he/she weighs less than the average birth weight.
2. Multiple Birth
The chances of low birth weight increase quite a bit if the mother gives birth to twins, triplets, quadruples, or more (4). This happens because there is more stress on the uterus since multiple babies within the womb try and share the nutrition with each other. As a result, babies might be born with low birth weight.
3. Consumption Of Alcohol
Alcohol and drug consumption during pregnancy can be extremely harmful to the baby (5). Alcohol intake causes the release of certain chemicals into the placenta, which in turn can reduce the oxygen supplied to the infant. This might result in growth inhibitions among tiny tots.
4. Intra-Uterine Growth Restriction (IUGR)
IUGR is a condition in which the fetus does not grow within the womb at a rate it is supposed to, and thus, is smaller (6). So, if the baby is born on the due date itself but still has a low body weight, it could be because he/she might have suffered from IUGR. Asymmetrical IUGR mostly happens because of nutrition deficiency and high blood pressure during pregnancy. Whereas, symmetrical IUGR is caused due to certain chromosomal abnormalities, urinary infections, and lifestyle-related factors.
Diabetes during pregnancy can increase the chances of the baby being born premature, which in turn leads to low birth weight (7). But, don’t you worry. Gestational diabetes can be easily taken care of with proper exercise, diet, and medication. It is important to remember that you need to make certain changes in your lifestyle as per the requirements of pregnancy.
Preeclampsia is a medical condition that happens during pregnancy as a result of high blood pressure (8). This might eventually lead to kidney damage as well. This, as well as any other medical condition which affects the placenta because of improper blood and nutrition supply to the infant, might result in low birth weight.
An expecting mother can be more susceptible to being hit by infections because of a possibly compromised immune system (9). Suppose these infections go unnoticed and untreated, it might cause various complications during delivery. And, one of these complications can also be low birth weight.
With this list, we hope to bring awareness among all expecting mothers. Yes, it is definitely a cause for concern. But, with a proper action plan and a continued guidance from your doctor, this can be tackled.Lastly, there is nothing to worry about. Keep stress at bay and continue what you are doing. And, soon you will be blessed with a healthy baby. Good luck!