Babies who are born with less than 5 lbs. are said to have a low birth weight. Doctors at times expect babies with low birth weight when the uterus is small. Even the ultrasounds shall show your baby smaller than the standard size.
Restrictions in the intrauterine growth can increase chances of loss of vision, mental retardation, learning problems in children. However, with advancement of prenatal care, this problem has been tackled to a great extent.
Though it may concern you if your baby is born with a lesser weight than recommended, it is very important to know that all babies born with low birth weight do not always suffer from health problems and some are simply born small
Causes Behind Low Birth Weight:
Low birth weight in babies is something that is absolutely undesirable. There are mainly two causes for low birth weight:
- Intrauterine growth restrictions
- Premature delivery
[ Read: Smoking During Pregnancy ]
Let’s take a look at the causes in detail:
1. Babies with Intrauterine Growth Restriction:
Babies with intrauterine growth restriction are known by different names such as small-for-date babies or small-for-gestational age.
Here is a look at how this results in low birth weight in babies:
- You may have completed your full term pregnancy and still give birth to a low birth weight baby.
- Generally your baby will be relatively healthy and just small in size.
- Your lifestyle or your genetic factors may be some of the reasons for the low birth weight of your baby.
Intrauterine growth restrictions in babies are generally of two types. These are:
b. Symmetrical: This type of growth restriction has greater frequency of health issues in babies.
2. Preterm Baby:
A baby is said to be born prematurely when born before 37 weeks of pregnancy.
- Babies weighing around 3 pounds are said to be at high risk of different health problems during the time of birth.
- Premature babies who are born close to the term need additional supervision for few days.
- These babies are statistically in a much better position with little or almost no complications.
- Mortality rate among the late preterm babies are higher than the term infants.
[ Read: Causes Of Preterm Labor ]
Other Causes Of Low Birth Weight:
Apart from the two main causes behind low birth weight in babies, there are other possible factors as well. Let’s take a look:
- Women under the age of 17 are at high risk of delivery of low weight baby.
- Insufficient weight gain during pregnancy.
- Smoking during pregnancy.
- Infections in pregnancy.
- Drinking alcohol while pregnant.
- High blood pressure.
- Chronic disease in pregnancy.
- Cervix abnormalities.
- Twins or triplets in the fetus.
- Uterus abnormalities.
- Preterm delivery in the previous pregnancy.
Preventive Measures During Pregnancy:
There are many things that you can do to reduce your chances of delivering a preterm baby with low weight. Let us have a look here:
- You must attend regular check-up sessions to make sure your baby is developing well.
- Regular visits to your healthcare provider may help in managing your condition, illnesses, mental health issues and so on.
- Folic acid plays a very important role. You must take around 400 mg of folic acid daily in pregnancy, as this can reduce risks of birth defects like neutral tube defects. Talk to your doctor about the required dosage.
- If you are into the habit of smoking, you must quit it at the earliest. Cigarette smoking is said to be one of the major risk factors behind low birth weight, in addition to many other health issues in your baby.
- Reducing alcohol and other sorts of drugs brings down the chances of low birth weight in babies.
- Good and early prenatal care ensures healthy growth and development of your baby.
Educational, nutritional and medical interventions on time can save the life of your baby and protect her from all sorts of complications. The incidences of low birth weight can be reduced keeping in mind these guidelines.
[ Read: How To Swaddle A Baby ]
Hospital Care Of Low Birth Weight Babies:
The specifics of a baby born prematurely in the hospital are determined by the birth weight and other health issues. Here is what you can expect in the hospital:
- A baby born prematurely is kept in the NICU or neonatal intensive care unit.
- The warming units in the NICU help in regulating the baby’s body temperature.
- Low body weight means less body fat that helps regulating the normal body temperature.
You must not be worried if you find wires connected to different parts of your baby. These machines are designed to check the following:
- Oxygen level
- Blood pressure
- Body temperature
- Heart rate
Once your baby is cleared medically, she shall leave for home with you.
Care At Home For Your Low Birth Weight Baby:
According to experts, only 20% of the babies are born with low birth weight. Generally they are free from all sorts of health complications at birth or for the rest of their life. The other 80% suffer from long term side effects for prematurity.
The common health problems you can notice are:
- Impaired lung function
- Impaired immune system
- Cerebral palsy
- Learning disabilities
- Behavioral issues
Other babies born prematurely do not suffer from any sorts of complications and they grow like any other full term babies. The only difference lies in the fact that they are smaller in size.
[ Read: How To Burp A Baby ]
Preventive Health Care:
Make sure to talk to your doctor about preventive health considerations such as:
- Flu vaccine
- High calorie formula milk to enable weight gain
- Vaccination for flu
These recommendations are given after considering an individual case.
Pregnancy is one of the most treasured times in a woman’s life. Enjoy it thoroughly with your partner and keep at bay all complications. Consult with your doctor about your diet, lifestyle and necessary medications in every stage of pregnancy.
Mothers do tell us what you did to ensure a healthy lifestyle in your pregnancy in the comment section below and help other expecting mommies to sail through their pregnancy.
References : 1 , 2
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