Low birth weight in babies
The World Health Organization defines low birth weight babies as those born with a birth weight of less than 2500 grams. Although low birth weight is common in premature babies, full term babies might also be born with a low birth weight. Considerable importance is given to a baby’s birth weight because it is not only an indicator of the baby’s health and nutritional status but also of its chances of survival. Low birth weight babies tend to look smaller than babies with normal baby weight, with their head appearing bigger than the rest of the body and with very little body fat.
What are the reasons of low birth weight in babies?
Low birth weight in babies is generally due to preterm birth or poor growth in the womb due to fetal growth restriction.
- Premature birth: Preterm or premature birth is when the baby is born before 37 weeks of pregnancy. Babies gain most of their weight in the womb during the last weeks of pregnancy and preterm low birth weight is usually because the babies have less time to grow in the mother's womb.
- Fetal growth restriction: Many babies are born full term but have a low birth weight. This occurs due to some kind of growth restriction in the womb. Growth restriction might occur due to intake of excess alcohol, drug abuse, smoking, anemia, HIV/AIDS, excessive emotional stress sin the mother. 2 or more babies during the same pregnancy, poor weight gain, infections of the mother and placenta problems can also cause poor weight gain in the newborn. Many babies may be small simply because their parents are small or it may be due to some health condition of the mother such as high blood pressure. Correcting the medical conditions of the mother may help improve the growth rate of babies in the womb.
What are the possible low birth weight complications?
- Respiratory Distress Syndrome: Babies born with this condition experience difficulty in breathing due to lack of a special protein in their lungs. Immediate and appropriate medical treatment helps such babies to breathe normally. They may also be required to be kept in a ventilator with oxygen supply and other apparatus to help them breathe until their lungs develop properly.
- Low birth weight babies and very low birth weight babies are more prone to suffering from health issues such as hypertension, diabetes and heart diseases during their lives.
- They also tend to have slower cognitive and motor development.
- Very low birth babies are at a greater risk of having cerebral palsy and other motor developmental disorders.
- Risk of infections are higher in low birth weight baby.
- Trouble in weight gain and feeding is observed
- There is low levels of blood oxygen
- Inflammation of the intestine is also seen
Is prevention of low birth weight babies possible?
Many babies who have low birth weight or are preterm grow up to be normal healthy adults. The easiest way to prevent your baby from being low birth weight is to take care of yourself when you are pregnant.
- Say no to smoking, alcohol and drugs while you are pregnant. Such substances cause much damage to the unborn children.
- Follow a healthy diet and avoid processed foods. Eat loads of fresh fruits and vegetables in a variety of colors and opt for whole meal bread.
- Keep yourself healthy by going for regular walks.
- Go for regular prenatal checkups and follow your doctors instructions. Do not skip the recommended medication, if any.
How to increase the weight of newborn baby?
- Breastfeeding: If your child has low birth weight, then it is very important that you breastfeed your baby. Breastfeeding is the most helpful action on your part to increase the weight of a newborn baby. WHO recommends that low birth weight infants should be put on the breast as soon as possible, ideally within the 1st hour of delivery, and maximum within 24 hours and should be exclusively breastfed until 6 months of age Babies should be breastfed up tot eh age of 2 years at least along with complimentary foods and can be continued beyond the age of 2 if the mother and child are willing.
- Touch and love: The importance of a loving touch and care, especially to a low weight baby cannot be emphasized enough. The overwhelming importance of the effect of touch on premature babies has led to a change in the procedure of infant care in many hospitals. Kangaroo care is recommended. Hold your diaper-clad baby to your bare chest while you feed and try to hold your child close to you for as much time as possible. Spend a lot of time cuddling, hugging, and stroking your baby.
If your new born baby needs special care and hospitalization, talk to your doctor if you can spend some time with the baby each day..
- Mother’s diet: Ensure that you are on a healthy and nutritious diet, while you are feeding your baby.
- Doctor's advice: Your doctor may specify a few guidelines for the management of low birth weight based on the specific requirements of your child. Follow the instructions of your doctor and be scrupulous about the recommended medicines and supplements, if any.
Disclaimer: The information in the article is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your doctor.