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Birth Weight

Number and percentage of low birth weight infants, that is, live born infants weighing under 2,500 grams at birth

Number and percentage of very low birth weight infants, that is, live born infants weighing under 1,500 grams at birth


Physical health status

Rationale for use of indicator

This measure is directly associated with birth outcomes and is an indicator of access problems and/or need for prenatal care services.

Risk Factors

Low birth weight is associated with younger and older maternal age, high parity, poor reproductive history, short time between births of children, low socioeconomic status, low level of education, late entry into prenatal care, low pregnancy weight gain and/or low prepregnancy weight, urinary or genital infections, smoking, and substance abuse.

Very low birth weight is commonly related to preterm birth, which in turn may be associated with substance abuse, stress, and strenuous work during pregnancy.


Low birth weight and very low birth weight are associated with a high percentage of infant deaths. Low birth weight babies are likely to have severe developmental delay or congenital anomalies and to be at high risk for long-term disabilities such as cerebral palsy, autism, mental retardation and vision and hearing impairments.


The modifiable factors include early prenatal care, reduction of smoking and substance abuse, and relief from work stress.

Data Source

1997 Texas Vital Statistics


Children at Risk. The indicators. [Online: http://www.childrenatrisk.org/ ] July 1999.

National Center for Health Statistics. Health status indicators: Definitions and national data. Healthy People 2000 Statistical Notes 1992;1(3):1-8.

USDHHS.Healthy people 2000: national health promotion and disease prevention objectives: full report, with commentary. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service; 1991. Report No.: DHHS publication no. (PHS) 91-50212.


Copyright © 1999 St. Lukes Episcopal Health Charities. All Rights Reserved.