Skip directly to searchSkip directly to the site navigationSkip directly to the page's main content

Health Indicator Report of Low Birth Weight

Low birth weight increases the risk for infant mortality and morbidity. As birth weight decreases, the risk for death increases. Low birth weight 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 low birth weight infants. Utah inpatient hospital discharge data (2011) indicate that average hospital charges for a low birth weight infant were $58,770 (DRG 386, 387, 388) compared to $2,389 for a normal newborn infant (DRG 391).

Low Birth Weight by Year, Utah and U.S., 2000-2013


Low birth weight is defined as less than 2,500 grams (about 5 pounds, 8 ounces).   [[br]] [[br]] 2013 U.S. rate is preliminary.

Data Sources

  • Utah Birth Certificate Database, Office of Vital Records and Statistics, Utah Department of Health
  • National Vital Statistics System, National Center for Health Statistics, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


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.

Healthy People Objective MICH-8.1:

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 increased from 6.6% in 2000 to 7.0% in 2013. While this is below the Healthy People 2020 Objective target (7.8%), the increasing trend is of concern.

How Do We Compare With the U.S.?

Nationally, the percentage of low birth weight births increased from 7.1% in 1991 to 8.0% in 2013 (preliminary data). Utah's low birth weight rate is lower than the national rate, however there is an increasing trend in rates both locally and nationally.

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. 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 low risk before undergoing infertility treatment. 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. Pregnant women also need appropriate referrals to services such as WIC, and nutritional and psychosocial counseling for at risk women.

Available Services

The Power Your Life website at - public education about how to be at optimal health prior to pregnancy. Social media for Power Your Life include Facebook:; Twitter:; Pinterest: Utah Tobacco Quit Line: Toll free-1-888-567-8788 Baby Your Baby Hotline: 1-800-826-9662 - A resource to answer pregnancy related questions and and locate services for the public. Baby Watch Early Intervention Hotline: 1-800-961-4226 - Utah's network of services for children, birth to three years of age, with developmental delay or disabilities. University of Utah Hospital's and Clinics Parent to Parent Support Program for families of premature infants.
Page Content Updated On 11/05/2014, Published on 12/09/2014
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 Tue, 24 November 2015 19:11:24 from Department of Health, Center for Health Data, Indicator-Based Information System for Public Health Web site: ".

Content updated: Tue, 28 Jul 2015 19:46:16 MDT