Low birth weight (LBW) babies can weigh less than 2.5 kilos at birth. A child that is underweight is at a great risk of death due to infection and other potential complications. They also can suffer from developmental problems. Kangaroo Mother Care is a solution specifically designed to give these babies and pre-term infants a fighting chance and higher rates of survival as a complimentary part of newborn baby care.
At what weight can a newborn infant be classified as this? Generally, the universally accepted weight for a baby to be classed as a low birth weight baby is less than 2.5 kilos or 5.5 pounds. Any baby being born weighing less than this is considered to be a LBW. Generally, the normal weight of a baby by 37 weeks of gestation is 2.5 kilos.
How does LBW Harm the Baby?
Low birth weight is dangerous because it predisposes the newborn baby to a number of dangers.
• The most immediate danger can be death as a result of the risk of infections and other complications. Low birth weight babies are usually underdeveloped. In fact, the large majority of these babies are born premature. As a consequence, their immune systems are still fragile and susceptible to infection.
• LBW baby’s can also suffer from developmental delays. Most parents find that babies born pre-term and/or with low birth weights tend to have delays in developmental milestones. Their speech may be delayed, they may not sit-up, crawl and walk as fast as other baby’s of the same age. This can stretch into adolescent and if not managed correctly, it can have an adverse impact on the child’s psychological state. Babies who are given Kangaroo Mother Care often reach developmental milestones without any complications.
Causes of Low Birth Weight
There are a number of causes for low birth weight. Some of the leading causes include the following:
• The mother may have a small uterus which may limit the growth of the fetus. This is common in teenage pregnancies especially where the girl is under the age of 17. It is also common in many first time pregnancies.
• Congenital and/or chromosomal anomalies can lead to an underweight infant.
• Placental problems in the womb where the placenta is unable or prevented from providing sufficient nourishment to the child.
• Some infections during pregnancy have a direct impact on the eventual weight of the child. These include; rubella, syphilis, toxoplasmosis and cytomegalovirus.
• There are also risk factors that predispose mothers to giving birth to underweight children. One of the most common is multiple pregnancies. A mother carrying twins, triplets, quadruplets and so forth is at a greater risk of giving birth to underweight children. The risk doubles with every additional child in the womb. Another risk factor is the mother has a history of giving birth to low birth weight children. The use of narcotics and alcohol is also a major risk factor as is smoking. Other risk factors include lead poisoning and poor pre-natal care.
How to Avoid Giving Birth to a Low Birth Weight Baby
There is no proven way that guarantees that your baby will not be born early however there are a number of ways in which you can reduce the likelihood of this happening to you. This includes:
• Fresh chemical free food
• Adequate hydration
• Adequate rest
• No smoking
• No drugs
• No alcohol
Effective Management of Low Birth Weigh Infants
In the unexpected event that you do give birth to a low birth weight or premature baby, do not despair, Kangaroo Mother Care improves the chances of infant survival by more than 50%. It basically involves skin-to-skin contact between the mother and child. It has been proven to help the child regulate bodily temperature, breathing and pulse rate in addition to feeding better.
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