When the birth weight of a new-born is less than 2499 gm, it is known as Low Birth Weight as per World Health Organisation’s definition.
But even LBW has sub-categories wherein if your child weighs less than 1500 g then he has ‘Very Low Birth Weight’ and Extremely Low Birth Weight if he weighs less than 1000 gm. The normal weight after delivery of an infant is considered to be 2500-4200 gm.
There are many conditions that cause low birth weight in babies. It may be a health condition or the mother’s diet during the period of pregnancy.
Other reasons include:
Premature Birth: If a baby is premature, it may have Low Birth Weight which will slowly get normalized as the baby grows.
Intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR): IUGR is a condition wherein the babies are born with lower birth weight. Whether or not the baby will have IUGR depends on the parents’ genes as well as lifestyle habits.
Multiple Pregnancies: In case the mother is carrying more than one baby in her womb as in the case of twins or triplets, the weight of one bay will be low because they would not each be getting as many nutrients as they require.
Improper Diet: It is essential to intake an apt number of vitamins, minerals, calcium, and other nutrients during pregnancy because the diet of the mother directly impacts the health of the growing baby. Not taking a proper diet can also cause low birth weight in babies.
The effect of low birth weight might vary from baby to baby. But premature babies who have a low birth weight might suffer from some conditions such as :
Respiratory Distress Syndrome (also called RDS): If a baby is born even before 34 weeks of pregnancy, they will lack a protein that keeps their lungs from collapsing. As such breathing is troublesome for babies with RDS. They might need support to keep on surviving at least initially after birth.
Bleeding: Premature babies with low birth weight might also have a condition called IVH wherein there will be bleeding inside their brain. Minor bleeds are no issues and can often fix themselves but if it is a major bleed, it can cause a lot of pressure on the fragile brain of the baby.
Babies who are born normal but with low birth weight might or might not suffer from the same problems. LBW in babies can be treated by keeping them in a special care unit until they grow healthier. Specific treatment will depend on what symptoms your baby will show. The baby might also end up taking feed through a tube directly to his stomach in case he is unable to suckle.