Low birth weight can cause a host of health problems for a newborn baby, including putting it in a high risk category to creating long-term issues. While there have been several ways of predicting a baby’s birth weight in the past, new research provides insight that will help doctors and other health professionals through a more accurate way to determine the weight of the baby curing the pregnancy. Baby weight predictions can identify those at risk of a low birth rate.
The research was conducted at Michigan State University (MSU.) Assistant professor at MSU’s Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Nicole Talge, co-led the studyon baby weight predictions that was published in the journal Pediatrics.
She based her research on U.S. births that occurred between 2009 and 2010. Talge and her team made connections for unlikely length of pregnancy for deliveries during that time, as they reviewed more than seven million records. They found changes in birth weight which were classified as unusually large or small for the number of weeks in gestation. They compared the mother’s last menstrual period against the number of weeks the fetus has been carried and the weight of the baby upon delivery to identify possible errors printed on birth records.
The result of the research is a better way to come up with baby weight predictions before it is born. Size is a big factor in a baby’s overall health and knowing a baby’s measurements before they are born can help doctors devise a proper health care and delivery plan and better advice the mother on how to adjust her habits, if necessary.
Low birth weight can lead to complications during labor and delivery and set the baby up for a lifetime of health problems. It can lead to chronic inflammation and ADHD. It is also the leading cause of infant death. The average baby weights six to eight pounds at delivery and anything less than 5.5 pounds is considered a low birth weight. According to the Center for Disease control (CDC,) eight percent of babies are born at a low birth weight and 1.4 percent are born with a very low birth weight. Babies in this category often require intensive care and extended care to ensure they gain weight and develop a healthy immune system to fight off diseases.
While an ultrasound is generally given one or more times during a pregnancy and frequent measurements of the mother’s abdomen are taken to document growth to help determine a baby’s weight and size before birth, they have not always been accurate measurements for baby weight. The MSU research gives health professionals a new method of predicting baby weight. They can then use the information to help promote the best outcome, including a specially designed birthing plan and coaching the mother. The mother’s nutrition and other habits are key factors om helping the baby achieve a healthy weight.
Talge explained that although the research shows a more accurate way of obtaining baby weight predictions, parents and healthcare workers need to realize that baby’s birth weight is only one way of measuring a newborn’s overall health.
By Tracy Rose