Low birth weight is a term used for babies who are born with weight less than 2.5kgs. These babies are smaller in size with a bigger head compared to their body. They are thin with very little body fat. In contrast to this, an average newborn weighs 3.6kgs.
Premature birth- As baby gains much of it’s body weight in the later stages of pregnancy, therefore, the primary cause of low birth weight is premature birth. This means baby has spent less time in mothers womb (born before 37 weeks of pregnancy) and wasn’t able to grow properly.
Intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR)- is another cause of low birth weight in pregnancy. This occurs when the baby has not grown properly during pregnancy because of problems with mother’s health or baby’s health or maybe because of problems with placenta.
Other cause of low birth weight are:
- High blood pressure which effects the flow of blood going to the placenta.
- In case, you are having twins, the chances of low birth weight is higher as they are often born early and don’t get much time to grow in the uterus.
- Pre-eclampsia reduces the blood flow to your baby and due to which the amount of oxygen and nutrients reaching to your baby will reduce. Hence, resulting in poor growth of the baby.
Having any sort of emotional problems during pregnancy can also slow down your baby’s growth. Seeking help from family and friends will make you feel better and boost the growth of your baby.
How does it affect the baby?
The problem will vary from case to case. Most babies who are underweight have no ongoing problems. The baby might also be underweight due to family history.
However, some basic problems that are caused by low birth weight are:
- Respiratory distress syndrome (RDS), which is a breathing problem
- Difficulty in keeping warm
- Low rate of blood sugar
- Increased risk in infection
- Presence of too many red blood cells, which can increase the blood flow.
It is said that babies who have low birth weight are considered to be less intelligent, cannot do well in school and have behavioural problems. But all of this also depends on how low your baby’s weight is.
How can you help your baby?
- Get regular developmental and growth checks done of your baby
- Keep an eye on your baby’s weight gain, as it grows. Early weight gain can also result in health issues as the baby grows
- Nutritious diet can help your baby grow healthy
Also, talk to your doctor regarding this problem. This can be a serious issue but can also be resolved easily.
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