A baby is low birth weight when it is born weighing less than 5 pounds and 8 ounces. While some low birth weight babies may be healthy, others have serious health problems that need treatment. A low birth weight baby may have trouble gaining weight, eating and developing resistance against infections. Some may also develop long term health problems. In the United States, about 1 in 12 babies is born with low birth weight. The most common causes of low birth weight are fetal growth restriction and premature birth (before 37 weeks of pregnancy). During pregnancy, make sure you go to all your prenatal care checkups. Your baby’s growth and development is tracked by your health care provider at each visit. A specialist will tell you what you can do to reduce your risk of having a baby with low birth weight. According to doctors at the best NICU hospital Coimbatore, here are the 2 main reasons why a baby may be born with low birthweight:
1. Premature Birth
When birth happens too soon, before 37 weeks of pregnancy, the baby has very little time to grow and gain weight in the womb. About 1 in 10 children in the States is born prematurely every year. Talk to your OB-GYN or visit Best Neonatal Care to know about how you can reduce the risk of having a premature baby.
2. Fetal Growth Restriction
Also known as FGR, the baby doesn’t gain the weight it should before birth in this case. If the parents are small, some growth-restricted babies may have low birth weight. It could also be because something stopped or slowed their growth in the womb. To help track your baby’s growth during pregnancy, your health care provider measures your belly and uses ultrasound. You may get ultrasounds more often (every 2 to 4 weeks) to track your baby’s growth if your provider thinks your baby is growth-restricted. Your gynaecologist may also test for infections and suggest heart rate monitoring. In some cases, a baby’s growth can be improved by treating health conditions in the mom during pregnancy.
Medical risk factors for having a low-birthweight baby
- Preterm labour: Labour that starts before 37 weeks of pregnancy.
- Chronic Health Conditions: Such as heart, lung and kidney problems, diabetes and high blood pressure.
- Taking certain medicines to treat health conditions: You may need to switch to a safer medicine or stop taking one during pregnancy.
- Infections: Infections in the uterus during pregnancy can slow a baby’s growth in the womb. These include Sexually Transmitted Infections, toxoplasmosis, chickenpox, cytomegalovirus and rubella.
- Placenta Problems: The flow of oxygen and nutrients to your baby, could be reduced due to problems in the placenta, which can limit your baby’s growth.
- Being pregnant with multiples.
- Abusing prescription drugs, using street drugs, drinking alcohol and smoking.
- Exposure to lead and air pollution.
- Low socioeconomic status.
- Domestic violence.
What health problems are common in low-birthweight babies?
Some low birth weight children might need special care at a neonatal care Coimbatore to treat medical problems like:
1. Breathing problems: Respiratory distress syndrome (RDS)
These babies may need oxygen and other breathing assistance to help their lungs work.
2. Bleeding in the brain: Intraventricular Haemorrhage (IVH)
While most brain bleeds are mild and fix themselves with almost no lasting problems, a surgeon may insert a tube into the baby’s brain to drain the fluid in some cases.
3. Patent ductus arteriosus (PDA)
This happens when an opening between the two major blood vessels from the heart does not close properly. Babies with PDA may need surgery from a Neonatology Specialist or medicine to close the opening.