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Important Facts for Low Birth Weight


The number of live births under 2,500 grams (5 pounds, 8 ounces) divided by the total number of live births over the same time period.


Number of live born infants weighing under 2,500 grams.


Total number of live births.

Why Is This Important?

As birth weight decreases, the risk for death increases. Low birth weight (LBW) infants who survive often require intensive care at birth, may develop chronic illnesses and later may require special education services. Health care costs and length of hospital stay are higher for LBW infants. For a LBW infant without complications, average hospital stays are three times longer than a normal weight infant, and for a LBW infant with complications, average hospital stays are over seven times longer than a normal weight infant. Utah inpatient hospital discharge data (2014) indicate that average hospital charges for a LBW infant was $73,796 (DRG 386, 387, 388) compared to $2,922 for a normal weight infant (DRG 391). Utah inpatient hospital discharge data (2014) indicate that average length of stay for a LBW infant was 16.8 days (DRG 386, 387, 388) compared to 1.9 days for a normal weight infant (DRG 391).

Healthy People Objective MICH-8.1:

Reduce low birth weight (LBW)
U.S. Target: 7.8 percent
State Target: 6.7 percent

How Are We Doing?

Utah's low birth weight percentage has remained essentially unchanged over the last decade from 6.9% in 2006 to 7.0% in 2015. In addition, this is below the Healthy People 2020 Objective target (7.8%).

How Do We Compare With the U.S.?

Nationally, the percentage of low birth weight births is essentially unchanged in the last decade from 8.3% in 2006 to 8.1% in 2015 (preliminary data). Utah's low birth weight rate is lower than the national rate.

What Is Being Done?

In an effort to reduce the low birth weight rate, emphasis has been placed on promoting preconception health to encourage women to be at optimal health at the time of conception as chronic health conditions, physical, emotional, and behavioral health issues can have a strong impact on the developing fetus. Chronic maternal disease such as hypertension and diabetes should be diagnosed and optimally managed prior to conception. In addition, work is ongoing to promote optimal weight in women of reproductive age prior to pregnancy as both maternal underweight and obesity are associated with low birth weight infants. Efforts are also underway to promote optimal pregnancy spacing as short interpregnancy intervals (< 18 months) are associated with low birth weight infants. Programs to reduce tobacco use during pregnancy have been developed and are being implemented in many local health departments. The Utah Department of Health has implemented the "Power Your Life" campaign to reach women of reproductive age about the importance of being healthy prior to pregnancy to improve outcomes. The centerpiece of the campaign is the Power Your Life website at []. Women are also encouraged to seek early and continuous care throughout their pregnancies and to achieve an adequate weight gain during pregnancy. All women should receive a thorough formal risk assessment at their initial prenatal visit, with updates throughout pregnancy to identify risk factors for low birth weight and develop appropriate interventions, if needed. Additionally, all women should be educated regarding the danger signs of pregnancy and the importance of fetal kick counts to facilitate early recognition of problems to permit earlier intervention, thereby improving pregnancy outcomes. Standards for assisted reproductive technology should be adhered to in order to reduce the frequency of higher order multiple pregnancies and to assure optimal outcomes. Women should be at optimal health and be low risk before undergoing infertility treatment. Pregnant women also need appropriate referrals to services such as WIC, and nutritional and psychosocial counseling for at risk women.
The information provided above is from the Department of Health's Center for Health Data IBIS-PH web site ( The information published on this website may be reproduced without permission. Please use the following citation: " Retrieved Fri, 19 January 2018 12:00:00 from Department of Health, Center for Health Data, Indicator-Based Information System for Public Health Web site: ".

Content updated: Fri, 26 May 2017 10:19:46 MDT