Low birth weight is considered to be less than 5.5 pounds when a baby is born. Low birth weight is one of the major leading causes of infant death in the United States. Through education and awareness, the United States has dropped infant mortality rates dramatically. In 1980, infant death averaged twelve percent due to low birth weight (Reichman, 2005). Infant mortality dropped to seven percent in the early new millennium (Reichman, 2005).
So what factors influence a baby to be born with low birth weight?
- Mothers who are young and under the age of seventeen
- Mothers who are at the age of 30 or greater
- If the family and mother are uneducated
- African Americans
- Poverty or low income
- Pregnant mothers who smoke and/or drink alcohol
- Babies being born prematurely
Reichman stated in her article, Low Birth Weight and School Readiness, “In 2000, thirteen percent of babies born to black mothers were low birth weight, compared to six and a half percent of those born to white mothers” (2005). What is even more interesting is women of Hispanic origin have the same status of white women when it comes to low birth rates. Women who move to America from other countries have better birth outcomes, rather than women from different origins who were born and raised in America. On a positive note, infant mortality due to low birth weight has dropped significantly over the past twenty-five years.
Babies who are born prematurely or born with low birth weight can place a huge financial burden to the family. Hospital stays are much longer for these children. Not only does the family acquire a much larger hospital bill, they obtain travel expenses to and from the hospital. Taking time off from work to be at the hospital is just another expense that the family has taken.
Children are at greater risk for school performance problems when born with low birth weight. They have a...
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