Learn More: Low Birth Weights


Variable Definition:
Low Birth Weight Infants: The average percentage of babies born between 2006 and 2012 who weighed less than five and half pounds at birth
CalEnviroScreen 3.0
Years Available:
Data collected as an average of 2006 to 2012
Data published in 2017
Geographic Unit:
Census Tract

Why is this Variable Important to Measure?

Low Birth Weight Infants
Babies who weigh less than five and a half pounds (2,500 grams) at birth are considered to have a low birth weight. Low birth weights can result from both premature births as well as restricted growth in the womb. Babies with low birth weights are at a higher risk for infant mortality, inhibited growth and cognitive development, and chronic diseases later in life. A mother's level of health can have a large impact on her child's birth weight. Smoking, substance abuse, stress, prolonged physical labor, and poor diet in the mother can all contribute to low birth weights.
Neighborhoods with high rates of pollution, violence, poverty, and lack of access to health care and nutritious foods tend to have higher rates of low birth weights. In general, however, the United States has relatively few instances of low birth weights when compared to most developing countries. Low birth weights are a good measure of the overall health of communities within the U.S. and around the world.

Behrman, R.E. and A.S. Butler, editors. "Sociodemographic and Community Factors Contributing to Preterm Birth." Preterm Birth: Causes, Consequences, and Prevention. Institute of Medicine Committee on Understanding Premature Birth and Assuring Healthy Outcomes, 2007. Link
"Low birth weight infants." Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, California Environmental Protection Agency, 2018. Link
Wardlaw, Tessa et al. "Low birthweight: Country, regional and global estimates." United Nations Children's Fund and World Health Organization, 2004. Link
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