Low-birthweight babies (% of births)

Definition: Low-birthweight babies are newborns weighing less than 2,500 grams, with the measurement taken within the first hours of life, before significant postnatal weight loss has occurred.

Description: The map below shows how Low-birthweight babies (% of births) varies by country. The shade of the country corresponds to the magnitude of the indicator. The darker the shade, the higher the value. The country with the highest value in the world is Bangladesh, with a value of 27.81. The country with the lowest value in the world is Sweden, with a value of 2.41.

Source: UNICEF, State of the World's Children, Childinfo, and Demographic and Health Surveys.

See also: Country ranking, Time series comparison

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Development Relevance: Low birth-weight, which is associated with maternal malnutrition, raises the risk of infant mortality and stunts growth in infancy and childhood. There is also emerging evidence that low-birth-weight babies are more prone to non-communicable diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. Low birth-weight can arise as a result of a baby being born too soon or too small for gestational age. Babies born prematurely, who are also small for their gestational age, have the worst prognosis. In low- and middle-income countries low birth-weight stems primarily from poor maternal health and nutrition. Three factors have the most impact: poor maternal nutritional status before conception, mother's short stature (due mostly to under-nutrition and infections during childhood), and poor nutrition during pregnancy (United Nations Children's Fund [UNICEF], www.childinfo.org).

Limitations and Exceptions: Estimates of low-birth-weight infants are drawn mostly from hospital records and household surveys. Many births in developing countries take place at home and are seldom recorded. A hospital birth may indicate higher income and therefore better nutrition, or it could indicate a higher risk birth. Caution should therefore be used in interpreting the data. For the data from household surveys, the year refers to the survey year. For more information, consult the original sources.

Aggregation method: Weighted average

Periodicity: Annual