Main Causes And Risk Factors Of Having A Low Birth Weight Baby

Main Causes And Risk Factors Of Having A Low Birth Weight Baby

A newborn baby weighing less than 5 pounds or eight ounces can have serious developmental and health concerns. Though some babies might catch up with some time and attention given to them for some babies, it can be alarming. Some serious developmental issues are associated with it. It becomes hard for them to gain weight and fight against injurious infections. In this article, we will tell you the main causes and risk factors that lead to low weight in new born babies.

Causes And Risk Factors Of Low Birth Weight Baby

There are two main causes that tell why a baby is born at low birth weight

1. Premature Birth

Usually gestational age of the baby is around 40 weeks. Some babies are born between 37-39 weeks and are termed full-term babies. Babies born before 37 weeks are pre-mature; they get less time to grow in the womb and thus gain less weight. It is essential for a woman to consult with her physician about what can be done to reduce the risk of having a premature baby.

2. Fetal Growth Restriction

This is another main reason for a baby born with low birth weight. Some conditions hamper baby growth, and thus it becomes unable for a baby to reach a minimum threshold. Some health concerns in mothers can hinder normal baby growth. Doctors usually measure growth with ultrasounds and measure heart rate. In case of any concern, the mother is constantly monitored and treated to spur the baby’s growth.

Let’s have a look at risk factors involved.

Medical Risk factors

There are a number of medical risk factors that increase the chance of having a baby with low birth weight. Having a medical condition does not mean that you shall have a baby with low birth weight; rather is showing the risk and chance of having it.

1. Preterm Labor

Babies born earlier than 37 weeks of gestation are referred to as premature. Premature babies are physically small as they have got less time to grow and gain weight in gestation, which is the main reason for their low birth weight.

2. Chronic Health Conditions

In mothers, some chronic health conditions can cause low baby birth weight. Chronic conditions are those that usually last for a long duration or that come on and off for a longer duration. Chronic conditions of the heart, lungs, kidneys, and liver can have a negative impact on unborn health.

3. Infections

Some serious infections in the mother, most importantly, infections of the uterus, can inhibit the growth of the baby. Some viral infections such as Herpes, HIV, and hepatitis B can have serious consequences on a baby’s growth. There are some bacterial infections such as urinary tract infections, vaginal infections that can be treated with antibiotics, and resultantly premature birth can be avoided.

4. Placental Problems

The placenta is attached to the uterus and is responsible for supplying oxygen and nutrients to the body. Some problems and issues associated with the placenta can restrict the supply of oxygen and nutrients. Placenta praevia, a condition having a placenta in the inferior part of the uterus, increases the chance of preterm delivery.

5. Weight Issue

Women who are not gaining enough during pregnancy can have more chances of having a baby with low birth weight. Check with the physician if you are not able to gain enough or if you have some eating disorder. Gradual gain and sustaining a healthy weight gain during pregnancy is important

6. History

If a pregnant woman has a history (previously had a baby with low birth weight), then there is more chance of a baby born with low birth weight. Previously having a growth-restricted baby indicates having one again. Obese women are more likely to have babies with low birth weight.

7. Multiple Babies

Having multiple babies may also cause a baby to have a low birth weight. According to an estimate, more than half of multiple babies (twins, triplets) have low birth weight. Multiple babies have less space as compared with a single baby so multiple babies are at higher risk of low birth weight.

Risk Factors Of Daily Routine

Some habits and work routines can also increase the risk factor of having a baby with low birth weight. A healthy lifestyle accompanied by healthy habits can reduce the risk factor to a great extent.

8. Drug Abuse

A pregnant woman indulged in bad habits of taking an excessive amount of alcohol, other drugs or a habit of excessive smoking has greater chances of baby with low birth weight and preterm baby. Abusing prescription drugs is another factor that can have the same effects as are of harmful drugs. A professional should be contacted for complete therapy to avoid any harmful effects on the baby.

9. Domestic Violence

Violent, abusive behavior of a partner or spouse can have negative impacts on the pregnant woman. It is the main stressor that causes emotional trauma; this negatively influences the growth of the unborn and inhibits the growth of the baby.

Risk Factors Of Age

Age is another risk factor that shows more likelihood of having a baby with low birth weight. Younger mothers (teenaged) and older women above 35 years are more likely to have babies with low birth weight.

Risk Factors Of Ethnicity

Studies have suggested that a single baby among every seven babies born to a black woman has low birth weight and a single baby among every fourteen babies born to a white woman has low birth weight.


Gestational development is an important phase to an unborn baby’s life ahead. If it could not grow sufficiently, then it could have serious health issues to the newborn after birth, one of the main problems being low birth weight. Women should look to seek out risk factors associated with having low birth weight and make sure to deal with issues proactively.

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