Low Birth Weight

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The Population

Low birth weight is defined as a birth weight less than 2,500 grams; it is associated with an increased risk of infant mortality, childhood morbidity and poorer health later in life. There are inequalities in low birth weight, with higher proportions of low birth weight babies being born in more deprived populations. This is thought to be associated with higher levels of lifestyle issues that increase the risk of low birth weight, such as maternal smoking and alcohol consumption.

The Burden

Latest data shows that in Wakefield 98 babies had a low birth weight in 2012; this is 2.5% of all full term births. Wakefield has a lower rate than the regional (2.9%) and national (2.8%) averages. Since 2009 the proportion of babies born with a low birth weight has fallen, 3.5% of births were of low birth weight in 2009, compared with 2.5% in 2012. It is not possible to calculate the % of low birth weight babies by the Seven Areas or Clinical Networks using this definition; we do not have access to the required data. In the area profiles the % of low birth weight babies has been calculated as a proportion of all live births, rather than those births that were full term.


Poor maternal nutritional status at conception and inadequate maternal nutrition during pregnancy can result in low birth weight. A number of nutritional factors have an influence on low birth weight, including pre-pregnancy maternal weight, gestational weight gain, energy intake, iron and anaemia.

The Inequality

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