Your low birth weight baby

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The average Indian baby weighs between 2500gms (2.5kgs) to 2900gms (2.9kgs) when born at full term. 

What is a low birth weight (LBW) baby?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), any baby who weighs less than 2500 gms (2.5 kgs) is termed as a "low birth weight" baby, irrespective of when the baby is born during pregnancy. In India, about two out of 10 full term babies, are born with low birth weight.

Babies, who weigh less than 2000 gms (2 kgs), need 
specialised neonatal care for the initial few weeks after birth, until they are much stronger and ready to go home. 

How is a low birth weight baby different from a premature baby?

Premature babies are born before the 37th week of pregnancy. Since they have not completed their full term and development in their mum's womb, they might need specialised attention in the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) and they usually have a low birth weight.

On the other hand, low birth weight babies are full term babies (born after the 37th week of pregnancy) but weigh less than 2500 gms. They are also referred to as small for date (SFD). 

What causes low birth weight in full term babies?

There are many reasons why a baby is born with low weight:

·         Twins or more are often born early and don’t have as much room to grow in the uterus (womb). So they tend to be low birth weight babies

·         Sometimes babies are small because they have inherited a medical condition, which may cause illness or disability after they are born.

·         There may have been a problem with the placenta, perhaps caused by pre-eclampsia, which reduces blood flow to a baby. This can restrict a baby’s growth, because not enough oxygen and nutrients can get through.

 

A baby can also be of low birth weight if you had health or emotional problems during your pregnancy such as:

·         anaemia

·         a history of miscarriage, stillbirth, previous low birth weight or pre-term delivery

·         chronic illnesses such as asthma, diabetes and kidney disease

·         infections such as toxoplasmosis or listeriosis during pregnancy

·         medical complications such as Rh incompatibility, problems with the uterus or a low-lying placenta

·         lack of proper antenatal care

·         a sexually transmitted disease like HIV-AIDS

·         stress or "pregnancy blues"

·         taking illegal drugs, such as heroin or cocaine

·         drinking too much alcohol, smoking (both active and passive)

How could having a low birth weight affect my baby?

It’s different for every baby. The outlook depends on what caused the low birth weight and whether your baby was premature when she was born. 

A low-birth-weight baby can face some problems. She may have: 

·         too many red blood cells, which can make her blood too thick (polycythaemia).

·         inhaled some of her first poop (meconium), causing breathing problems

·         low blood sugar (hypoglycaemia)

·         difficulty keeping warm


You may have heard that low-birth-weight babies have lower intelligence, go on to do poorly at school, or have behaviour and mental health problems. In fact, the evidence about this is mixed, so it’s hard to predict how an individual child will do in the future. The effects of low birth weight on a child’s physical and mental health are more often to do with what caused their low birth weight in the first place, rather than the low birth weight itself. 

Some studies show that low-birth-weight children do just as well as those with an average birth weight, especially if they had plenty of family support. 

Some experts believe that babies with a low birth weight may be more likely to have diabetes and heart disease when they are older, but there is still some debate about this. 

How can I help my low birth weight baby?

There are many positive steps you can take to improve your baby’s chances for a healthy start:

·         Breastfeeding your baby is one of the best things you can do to help her grow up to be healthy. Do not feed her anything but breastmilk for the first six months of her life, not even water.

·         Make sure your baby has all her growth and development check-ups. This will help you and your doctor catch problems at an early stage if there are any.

·         Once she turns six months old and you introduce her to solid foods, a nutritious diet can help your baby to catch up on her growth.

 

Courtesy By - babycenter

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