Low Birth Weight Definition, Reason, Symptoms, Treatment & Prevention

Low Birth Weight Definition, Reason, Symptoms, Treatment & Prevention

Low birth weight babies (LBW) is a term used to refer to babies born weighing less than 2,500 grams.


Low birth weight babies (LBW) is a term used to refer to babies born weighing less than 2,500 grams. In general, babies born at full term have a body weight between 2,500 grams to 4,000 grams.

Babies with low birth weight can be healthy, even though they are small. But some others can also have some health problems.


Low birth weight is often caused by early labor (premature labour), ie before 37 weeks of pregnancy. Babies who are born prematurely mean that they spend a shorter time in the mother’s womb to grow and gain weight.

One of the causes of low birth weight is a condition known as intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) or stunted fetal growth (IUGR). This occurs when the baby does not grow properly during pregnancy.

This condition can be caused by problems with the placenta, the health of the mother, or the health of the baby. Babies with IUGR can be born full term, which is between 37 to 41 weeks of gestation, or premature, which is under 37 weeks of gestation. According to SGT University Infants Low Birth Weight


Low birth weight babies are characterized by weighing less than 2,500 grams at birth, both in term babies and premature babies. Babies with low birth weight will appear smaller than babies with sufficient birth weight. The head of a baby with low birth weight can appear larger than the rest of the body. In addition, low birth weight babies generally look thin with less body fat.

Low birth weight in infants is further grouped as follows:

  • Low birth weight babies (LBW), namely birth weight < 2,500 grams.
  • Very low birth weight babies (BBLSR), namely birth weight 1,000 grams to <1,500 grams.
  • Infants with very very low birth weight (BBLASR), i.e. birth weight <1,000 grams.


One of the reasons for the importance of routine prenatal checks is to make sure that the baby is growing properly. During pregnancy, the size of the fetus is monitored in several ways.

Gradual weight gain is one way to check fetal growth. To measure fundal height, an examination is carried out by measuring the length from the top of the pubic bone to the top of the uterus (top of the uterus or fundus).

In addition, trained health workers can also use ultrasound to evaluate the growth and development of the fetus. Ultrasound uses sound waves to produce an image of the fetus.

The image obtained is a more accurate calculation than the fundal height calculation. Measurements are taken on the baby’s head, abdomen, and upper femur, to estimate the weight of the fetus.


Treatment for low birth weight babies depends on the signs and symptoms experienced, age, and general health status. This also depends on the severity of the problematic conditions experienced.

Treatment for low birth weight babies often includes the following:

  • Treatment in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) or neonatal intensive care unit.
  • Temperature-controlled bed.
  • Special feeding, which sometimes needs to be done through a tube in the stomach if the baby cannot suckle, or through an IV.

Low birth weight babies generally begin to undergo catch-up growth if there are no complications. Sometimes, low birth weight babies also need follow-up health monitoring.


Along with the increasing progress in the field of services for sick low birth weight babies, more and more babies with this condition can be helped. However, prevention of preterm labor is one of the best ways to prevent low birth weight babies.

Routine prenatal monitoring is the best way to prevent preterm labor and low birth weight babies. During the obstetric visit, the health worker will check the health of the mother and fetus.

In addition, it is important to adopt a healthy diet during pregnancy. This can help ensure that the weight gain of the mother and fetus is appropriate for the stage of pregnancy. Pregnant women are also advised not to consume alcohol, smoke or use illegal drugs, which can also cause low birth weight in babies.

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