LBW - Babies that don't throw too much weight around!
- By Sanjay Akolkar
You'll hear this term if your baby weighs less than 2.5 kg (5.5 lb) when born. About six in 100 babies who are born in the UK have a low birth weight. There are a number of reasons for LBW in babies, with premature birth topping the list as far as reasons go. Babies born prematurely could have extremely low birth weight as compared to babies that are born between the natural term of pregnancy, i.e., between 36-40 weeks.
So what are the other reasons behind LBW babies?
- Descent is an important factor that could also determine birth weight. A survey conducted in the UK showed that children born to people from the Indian sub-continent (Indian, Pakistani, or Bangladeshi) or African parents are more likely to be born with LBW as compared to babies born of white Caucasians.
- In case of twins or triplets, there are chances that one or all offspring might have LBW due to lack of space in the womb. The mother’s health would largely determine the healthy weight of the child as well.
- Emotional problems faced by the mother during pregnancy could have a link with LBW. Same goes for addictions like smoking, alcohol abuse, designer drugs, and at times, health conditions like high blood pressure which cuts off healthy blood supply to the fetus. Even damage to the placenta can cause LBW, as the fetus does not receive vital nutrients, blood, and oxygen which can cause stunted growth or low weight at birth.
- Any congenital or hereditary conditions can also affect the baby’s weight.
There is much uncertainty with regard to the future of a baby with low birth weight. There have been instances where LBW babies have developed conditions like obesity, diabetes, or heart disease in later years. It is a common fear that LBW babies develop behavioral or emotional problems in schooling years and they are likely to have low intelligence. Of course, there isn’t any concrete evidence.
The pivotal factors here would be to find the cause for LBW and what trimester of pregnancy was it detected.
Providing a stable family environment and taking special care of a LBW baby can also go a long way in keeping it healthy in subsequent years.
Not to forget that the parents’ size and genetic predisposition would have a lot to do with the baby’s health and even weight. If the parents are small in size or underweight, then the chances are that the baby will be born small or with LBW.
Breastfeeding the baby is the best strategy that a mother can adopt to ensure that the baby grows up well. While growing up, the parents will have to ensure that the baby receives a balanced nutritious diet to ensure healthy weight.