What is it?

Low birth weight is a term used to describe babies who are born weighing less than 5 pounds, 8 ounces (2,500 grams). The average newborn weighs about 8 pounds. Although a low-birth-weight baby may be small, he or she may be healthy. There are, however, a number of serious health problems that can occur in a low-birth-weight baby.

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Signs & symptoms

Low birth weight babies look much smaller than babies of normal birth weight, as well as weighing less than 5 pounds, 8 ounces. There is a possibility that the head of a baby with low birth weight will appear larger than his or her body. With little body fat, he or she usually appears thin.


Prenatal exams are important to ensure your baby is growing well. There are several ways to estimate the size of your baby during pregnancy. You can monitor the baby's growth by observing your steady weight gain. The fundal height can also be determined this way:
Fundal height is measured from the top of your pubic bone to the top of your uterus (fundus).
The fundal height is measured in centimeters (cm). Approximately the same as the number of weeks after the 20th week of pregnancy. At 24 weeks' gestation, your fundal height should be close to 24 cm.
A low fundal height may indicate that the baby is not growing properly.
Fetal ultrasound can also be used to monitor your baby's growth and development. Sound waves are used to create an ultrasound image of your baby. It is a more accurate than checking fundal height. Measurements can be taken of your baby's head, belly (abdomen), and upper leg bone (femur).
Within the first few hours after birth, babies are weighed. A comparison is made between the weight and the number of weeks of pregnancy (gestational age). Your baby has a low birth weight if he or she weighs less than 2,500 grams (5 pounds, 8 ounces). A very low birth weight baby weighs less than 1,500 grams (3 pounds, 5 ounces) at birth. Babies who weigh less than 1,000 grams (2 pounds, 3 ounces) are extremely low birth weight.


Your child's symptoms, age, and general health will determine his or her treatment. The severity of the condition will also affect the outcome.

Low birth weight is often treated with:

Neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) care

A bed with a temperature control


☝️ This is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult with your physician before making any medical decision.

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