A new study conducted by researchers at Swansea University in Wales has identified key risk factors for low baby birth weights. Some of these factors included multiple births, a short period of time between pregnancies, and when mothers have a maternal mental health or physical condition.
According to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), over 8% of all newborn babies born in the United States are considered low birthweight (LBW)– or weighing below 2,500 grams (five pounds and eight ounces).
So, the researchers aimed to better understand LBW risk factors in order to pave the way for more effective resources and prompt intervention scheduling.
The cohort study included 693,377 children selected from the National Community Child Health database who were born in Wales between January 1, 1998, and December 31, 2018.
The team used this data to anonymously link various administrative datasets that are routinely collected in hopes of illuminating LBW risk factors.
The researchers found that women who are expecting more than one baby– such as twins or triplets– and women who have less than one year between pregnancies are at the highest risk of delivering a baby with low birth weight.
Mothers who have maternal physical health conditions, such as anemia and diabetes, as well as mental health conditions– including depression, anxiety, severe mental illness, and use anti-depressants during pregnancy– are also at the highest risk.
Other risk factors for LBW highlighted by the study ranged from smoking, substance misuse, and alcohol-related hospital admission to domestic abuse, maternal age being over 35 years old, and residency in a deprived area.
So, moving forward, the study’s authors made various suggestions to address these factors and reduce the risk of LBW.
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