A baby who is born earlier than the scheduled date or has been born without enough growth may enter life in this world with a slightly smaller body. Such a baby was once called “premature baby” which refers to a state where the body function is not mature. But in some cases even if the weight is small, there is no problem with the function, so now they are properly called “babies with low birth weight”.
In most cases when a baby is born very little, the mother would be worried about the function of his/her body and the future issues and/or risks.
Therefore, we have summarized the typical situation and attitudes on the “low birth weight child”, and what kind of risks can be anticipated.
- What is a low birth weight child?
- Lifestyle during pregnancy that causes low birth weight in infants
- When a baby is born with a low birth weight
- Risks that are likely to occur in low birth weight infants
- Procedures necessary when a low birth weight baby is born
What is a low birth weight child?
A baby born with less than 2500 grams of weight is called a “low birth weight child” and it is classified into 3 types depending on the weight at birth.
Low birth weight baby: less than 2500g
Extremely low birth weight infant: less than 1500grams
Ultra-low birth weight infant: less than 1000grams
A baby is likely to have low birth weight when the pregnancy period is less than 37 weeks, or in cases of multiple pregnancies. However, sometimes even if we meet the correct pregnancy week number, the lifestyle habits of mothers during pregnancy may affect the weight of the baby.
Lifestyle during pregnancy that causes low birth weight in infants
Babies who are born with low body weight are weak in resistance and often have poor ability to maintain body temperature, so they are placed in an incubator immediately after birth in the baby intensive care unit (NICU) and continuing nursery room (GCU) who will provide the necessary care.
Pregnancy hypertensive syndrome
Pressure on the blood vessels of the placenta prevents nutrition from adequately being delivered to the baby.
Due to smoking and drinking, blood vessels atrophy. Smoking causes less oxygen in the blood, so the baby’s nutritional needs are not delivered.
Being unreasonably conscious about your body proportions and restricting yourself from eating – so much so that nutritional needs are not met, may make the baby undernourished.
In addition, symptoms that may cause premature birth such as pregnancy toxemia (for toxemia definition click here), placental abnormalities, infectious diseases, and periodontal disease need attention.
On the baby’s part, these may cause low weight:
- The umbilical cord twists in the stomach and the blood flow is affected
- Chromosomal abnormalities and congenital diseases
- Delayed development of babies in the tummy due to intrauterine fetal growth retardation
When a baby is born with a low birth weight
An indication that a baby is strong enough to leave the incubator or treatment room is if the baby’s weight exceeds 2000 grams, and there is no problem with the body functions. However, other factors may also be considered as differences are depending on the baby’s condition.
According to a mother’s experience:
“My newborn who sleeps connected to a tube is such a sight that I ache and look for my own mother. But the baby is trying hard to live. Doctors and nurses are also on hand, and now the advancement of medical care has increased the life-extension rate for low birth weight children. First of all, I am grateful to my child for being born. Let’s leave it to the doctor and the nurse. Do not blame yourself.”
In addition, stress also affects breast milk yield. Even if you can not give it directly to your child, breast milk can be delivered through a tube.
Risks that are likely to occur in low birth weight infants
Babies who have been born with immature functions tend to have high risks of disability. The main risks that are likely to occur in low birth weight children are as follows.
- Physical growth such as sitting of the neck, walking, etc. is slow
- Learning obstacles (LD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) etc, may be observed
- If the brain, retina, etc. is affected, it may develop into cerebral palsy or blurred vision
However, because individual differences are many depending on the number of gestational weeks and the condition of the baby, a lot of these risks do not happen to all low birth weight babies. Also, depending on the situation, the baby may catch up with the growth of normal babies over several years.
So let’s make a long-term commitment to follow-up and support low birth weight children. Go for regular check-ups and watch the progress carefully.
Procedures necessary when a low birth weight baby is born
There are some specific procedures when low birth weight babies are born, such as notification of birth or a report of infant medical assistance.
For low birth weight babies, do not forget the following notification.
Newborn birth notice
“Birth notice slip” is often bound in a separate volume of the maternal and child handbook. Low birth weight infants are obliged to notify by “Maternal and Child Health Law” as “low birth weight child report”. By submitting to the local health center, you can receive support such as newborn visits, infant health checkups, vaccination announcements, and so on.
Because there are times when you have to report the birth weight at the hospital, you can check it at the birthplace (hospital/center).
Premature infant medical care system
This is for a baby who is born at less than 2000 grams, or when the doctor decides that it is necessary to hospitalize the baby due to low birth weight. We can receive assistance for treatment and hospitalization expenses at medical care institutions.
The conditions may vary depending on the rules of the healthcare system in your barangay/city/country.
Even if the baby’s weight is small, and growth may be delayed, the baby is family and there are individual differences. You can never tell how much a baby can develop and grow stronger over time if given proper attention, love, and care.
Let’s watch over the baby’s growth carefully, and avoid comparing to other babies’ growth process.