DefinitionThe 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.
NumeratorNumber of live born infants weighing under 2,500 grams.
DenominatorTotal 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 and are at risk for many health problems including delayed motor and social development or learning disabilities.
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?The Utah low birth weight percentage has increased over the last decade from 6.7% in 2007 to 7.2% in 2018. The Utah 2018 rate is below the Healthy People 2020 Objective target (7.8%) and has been consistent at 7.2% from 2016-2018.
How Do We Compare With the U.S.?Nationally, the percentage of low birth weight births has remained essentially unchanged at around 8.2% since 2007. The Utah 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) that 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 [https://mihp.utah.gov/power-your-life].
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 Women, Infant and Childrens (WIC), and nutritional and psychosocial counseling for at risk women.