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Health Indicator Report of Very Low Birth Weight

Very low birth weight babies have an extremely high risk for health problems. Advances in newborn medical care have greatly reduced the number of deaths associated with low and very low birth weight. However, a small percentage of survivors develop mental retardation, learning problems, cerebral palsy, and vision and hearing loss. Poor reproductive health and birth outcomes are dependent on a variety of different factors. Some of these factors are well known while many others have not been identified or are less clear. Some known risk factors for having poor reproductive health and birth outcomes are pregnancy history, exposures to infections, use of medicines and exposure to chemicals in the environment, alcohol or drug use, poor medical care, chronic health problems, and smoking as well as socioeconomic factors.

Percentage of Live Born Infants With Very Low Birth Weight by Year, Utah, 1989-2006

Data Source

Office of Vital Records and Statistics, Utah Department of Health


An infant is considered to have a very low birth weight if they are less than 1,500 grams or about 3.3 pounds at birth. Babies born before 37 completed weeks of pregnancy are called premature. The earlier a baby is born, the less they are likely to weigh.


Number of live born infants with a birth weight of less than 1,500 grams or 3.3 pounds.


Total number of live born infants in specific time period.

Healthy People Objective :

Other Objectives

Environmental Public Health Indicator

How Do We Compare With the U.S.?

In 2005, 1.5% of live births in the U.S. and 1.0% in Utah were very low birth weight. Neither the U.S. nor Utah have met the Healthy People 2010 objective for very low birth weight of no more than 0.9% of live births.

What Is Being Done?

In an effort to reduce the low birth weight rate, emphasis has been placed on preconception care to assist women in achieving optimal pregnancy spacing and to attain their optimal pre-pregnancy weight. Chronic maternal disease such as hypertension and diabetes should be diagnosed and treated prior to conception. Programs to reduce tobacco use during pregnancy have been developed and research continues into the role of periodontal disease in pregnancy on low birth weight. 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, to reduce the frequency of higher order multiple pregnancies. 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 psychosocial counseling.

Available Services

Utah's Baby Watch program provides early identification for developmental delays in children less than three years of age. In addition to identification, Baby Watch offers services to address developmental delays so the child may live a more normal healthy life. For more information, call 1-800-961-4226. Baby Your Baby is a Utah program that promotes adequate prenatal healthcare. In addition to providing information, Baby Your Baby offers financial assistance through a form of Prenatal Medicaid. For more information, call 1-800-826-9662. The Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) provides health insurance to children from low-income families that do not have any other health insurance. For more information, call the CHIP Hotline for an application, at 1-877-KIDS-NOW. The Bureau of Children With Special Health Care Needs provides access and referrals to specialty care to children under the age of 18 with special health care needs. For more information, call 801-584-8284. The Utah Neonatal Follow-up Program complements primary care for at-risk infants. The program offers 2 year follow-up services to infants born with serious health risks such as prematurity, extremely low birth weight, hypoxic ischemic encephalophathy, or severe cardiac and respiratory impairments. For more information, email, or call 801-584-8246. The Women, Infants and Children Program (WIC) is a program to provide supplemental food and nutrition education to low-income pregnant women, new mothers, and young children. For more information, call 1-877-WIC-KIDS.
Page Content Updated On 09/25/2008, Published on 07/14/2011
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 Wed, 16 August 2017 9:05:34 from Department of Health, Center for Health Data, Indicator-Based Information System for Public Health Web site: ".

Content updated: Tue, 20 Dec 2016 15:48:03 MST