Posted by Chantel Martiromo, Article By Kyle J. Norton
Low birth weight is a condition
of a baby who was born below the weight of gestational age due to
several reasons, including, the baby was born too soon, were small for
gestational age, the poor health of the mother, nutritional
deficiency, certain diseases, etc. According to the statistic of the
World health organization, globally, more than 20 million infants were
born with low birth weight.
The consequences of low birth baby (Symptoms)
Some LBW babies can have life-long health problems as well as the
risk of dying in the first year of life. Most common diseases of low
birth weight baby include
1. Respiratory distress syndrome (RDS)
As the lung is a last organ to develop of the fetus during 40 weeks
of pregnancy, respiratory problem is a very common for baby who was born
with low weight. Babies who were born before the week of 34 are at risk
of lacking surfactant to keep the small air sacs in the lungs from
collapsing. The introduction of additional oxygen is very helpful to
keep the baby lung to expand, but according to the antioxidant theory,
it can also induce the chain of oxidation, causing vary health problem
to the baby, if the additional oxygen has to be used it for a prolonged
period of time, as the baby has weakened immune system to defend it due
to low birth weight.
2. Intraventricular hemorrhages (IVH) (bleeding in the brain
Bleeding can occurs within the first days of life in the brain of
some very low-birthweight. According to the article of "Treatment
reduces brain hemorrhages in very low birthweight babies" posted in the
National Institue of neorological institutes, "between 20 to 40 percent
of very low birthweight infants have intracranial hemorrhages, putting
them at very high risk for major neurodevelopmental problems" and "Very
low-birthweight babies who are treated with indomethacin within 6-12
hours after birth have a lower incidence and reduced severity of brain
hemorrhage, a frequent and often debilitating complication of such
3. Patent ductus arteriosus (PDA)
PDA is a heart problem that is common in premature babies. It is
defined as a condition of a congenital disorder in the heart with
persistent opening between two major blood vessels leading from the
According to the study of Patent ductus arteriosus in infants of low birth weight.
D R Smith, D H Cook, T Izukawa, P M Olley, P R Swyer, and R D Rowe,
researchers found that In 48 patients whose heart failure could not be
controlled by other medical therapy indomethacin was given, and in 20
(42%) it was judged successful. Surgical ligation of the ductus was
performed at a median age of 30 days in 33 infants who either failed to
respond to indomethacin or in whom its use was contraindicated; there
were no intraoperative deaths, but 11 (33%) of the infants died 4 days
to 6 months after the operation.
3. Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC)
Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) is defined as a condition of
premature death of cells of portions of the bowel tissue after 2-3 weeks
of birth, causing feeding intolerance, increased gastric residuals,
abdominal distension, bloody stools, etc.. Treatments of babies with NEC
include supportive care antibiotics and in some case, clostomy may be
necesesary depending to the disgnosis.
4. Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP)
Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) is defined as acondition of a
blinding eye disease of premature babies and very low birth weight
infants born before 32 weeks of pregnancy as a result of an abnormal
growth of blood vessels in the eye. According to the strudy of
Retinopathy of "Prematurity in Extremely Low Birth Weight Infants" by C.
Gregory Keith, Lex W. Doyle, researchers found that the increase in the
survival rate of ELBW infants is not always accompanied by an increase
in the rate of severe ROP or blindness, at least for ELBW infants born
in some large level-3 centers. In most cases, the disease can heal
themselves with little or no vision loss. In severe cases, laser therapy
or cryotherapy is necessary to destroy the peripheral areas of the
retina but it may cause some vision loss. In latest stage of ROP,
Scleral buckle and vitrectomy may be necessaery depending to retcam
5. Psychological effects
According to the study of "Psychiatric
symptoms in low birth weight adolescents, assessed by screening
questionnaires." by Indredavik MS, Vik T, Heyerdahl S, Kulseng S,
Brubakk AM., researchers found that very low birth weight(VLBW)
adolescents are at risk of developing psychiatric symptoms, and reduced
social and academic skills by the age of 14. Term SGA adolescents may
have discrete emotional, behavioural and attention deficit symptoms.
ASEBA and SDQ provide a useful supplement to psychiatric interview.
6. Later in the baby life
In a study of Emotional, behavioral, social, and academic outcomes
in adolescents born with very low birth weight. by Dahl LB, Kaaresen PI,
Tunby J, Handegård BH, Kvernmo S, Rønning JA., researchers found that
From parents' point of view, significant proportions of very low birth
weight adolescents experience more emotional and behavioral problems and
less competence than normative adolescents. In contrast, very low birth
weight adolescents state less problems and similar or higher competence
than normative adolescents. Very low birth weight adolescent girls
report more emotional and behavioral problems compared with their
parents than very low birth weight adolescent boys do. Externalizing
problems in very low birth weight adolescent girls are often not
recognized by parents. To better understand these seemingly paradoxical
findings and to develop adequate intervention programs, there is a need
for prospective longitudinal studies.
7. Short stature
In a study of "Low birth weight--additional important factor of
diagnosis in children with short stature". [Article in Polish] by
Majcher A, Pyrżak B, Bielecka-Jasiocha J, Witkowska-Sędek E.,
researchers found that
a. Low birth weight is diagnosed in every sixth child with short stature in the Clinic of Endocrinology.
b. Children born on time with low birth weight should be diagnosed
early towards congenital genetic disorders and development defects.
8. Metabolic syndrome and ischemic heart disease.
Baby who was born low birth weight is at higher risk of heart
diseases and diabetes as a result of inflammatory processes in
adulthood. According to the study of "Low
birth weight and markers of inflammation and endothelial activation in
adulthood", The ARIC study by Lucia C. Pellanda, Bruce B. Duncan, Alvaro
Vigo, Kathryn Rose, Aaron R. Folsom, Thomas P. Erlinger, researchers
found that LBW predicted greater inflammation and endothelial
activation, as indicated by the higher score of blood markers,
consistent with the hypothesis that early life events may result in a
hyper-responsive innate immune system. Such a pro-inflammatory tendency
could help explain the association of low birth weight with elements of
the metabolic syndrome and ischemic heart disease.
1. Mother’s poor nutrition
According to the World health organization, Once pregnant, the mother’s nutrition and diet,
lifestyle, such as alcohol, tobacco or drug abusehave greatly
affected the weight of the fetus. In most cases, it is caused by
long-term maternal malnutrition,
2. sexual tramitting diseases during pregnancy
Certain sexual tramitting diseases can increase the risk of low birth weight of the newborn, including syphilis
2.1. Infectious diseases HIV
It is an disease caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
which can severe damaging the immune system that can lead to infection
and inflammation as a result of weakened immune system in fighting
against foreign invasion. Symptoms include acute infection, fever,
swollen lymph nodes,etc. Your baby may be infected by the virus as a
result of sharing blood supply with you or you can transmit the disease
Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection caused by the
spirochete bacteria Treponema pallidum. The disease is developed into
your stages with no symptom in the first stage, rash in the palm, soles
of the feet,, etc. in the second stage. In the latent (hidden) stage of
syphilis, no symptoms, the disease is hidden but it can be transmitted
through sexual activity. In the final stage, is also known as Tertiary
Syphilis, the infectious person may experience symptoms of Heart, Eyes,
Brain , Nervous system, etc. damages. According to the statistics, more
than 6000 cases of syphilis are reported in the United States alone each
year. It is a concern that you may transmit the disease to your baby
during child birth.
3. Low income family
Women who are low income earner may be suceptible to low birth
weight baby as a result of nutritional deficiency according to the World
4. Birth defects
Certain genetic birth defects may be result in low birth weight baby, including
a. Chromosomal abnormalities The diseases can be caused by genetic
passing through from the parent or an error in cell division.
Chromosomal abnormalities can be divided into two basic groups,
numerical and structural anomalies.
b. Single gene defects
It is a result of single gene defect out of 40-60,000 genes
presented in the human body leading to the leads to alternation of the
DNA code as a result of an defect amino acid sequence in the proteins.
c. X-Chromosome abnormality
Women who carry the mutated genes of the X chromosome have 50% risk
in giving birth to a X-link related birth defects. Types of disorder is
depended to the degrees of expression of the mutation. In X chromosome
abnormality, men are affected and women are carriers.
d. Multifactorial problems
It is a type of genes mutation involved many factors, including the
environment in the causation of birth defection, including cleft lip or
cleft palate, neural tube defects, etc.
e. Teratogenic problems
It is type of mutation gene abnormality caused by exposure to
certain chemicals, radiation, alcohol, heavy chemicals, certain
5. Chronic health problems
Certain chronic illness such as anemia, high blood pressure,
diabetes, and heart, lung and kidney if left untreated or uncotrolled
can affect the weight of the baby, including low birth weight due to
6. Inadequate maternal weight gain
Women who don’t gain enough or gain too much weight during pregnancy
increase their risk of having a low-birthweight baby (2, 6). According
to the study of "Maternal prepregnant body mass index and weight gain
related to low birth weight in South Carolina" Posted in the free
library by Farlex researchers found that Eight percent of the very low
birth weight (VLBW)rate in South Carolina can be attributed to
inadequate weight gain in pregnancy. Approximately 19% of the state's
VLBW rate can be attributed to either underweight or overweight BMI at
7. Certain exposures and smoking
a. Expose to indoor air pollution, can increase the risk of low birth weight bady.
b.Women who smoke during pregnancy smoke are twice as likely to give birth to low-birth weight infants.
According to the study of "Air pollution combustion emissions:
characterization of causative agents and mechanisms associated with
cancer, reproductive, and cardiovascular effects." by Lewtas J.,
researchers found that Long-term epidemiologic studies have reported an
increased risk of all causes of mortality, cardiopulmonary mortality,
and lung cancer mortality associated with increasing exposures to air
pollution. Adverse reproductive effects (e.g., risk for low birth
weight) have also recently been reported in Eastern Europe and North
America. Although there is substantial evidence that PAH or substituted
PAH may be causative agents in cancer and reproductive effects, an
increasing number of studies investigating cardiopulmonary and
cardiovascular effects are investigating these and other potential
causative agents from air pollution combustion sources.
If you have previous low weight birth, if you feel the baby is not
growth large enough, please consult with your doctor. Since there is no
symptom to identify the abnormality, follow-up exams are necessary
A. How to avoid
1. If you have previous low birth weight baby, it is imporant that
you make sure your are at the optimal health and all chronic illness are
under controlled before you get pregnant again to lower the risk of low
birth weight incidence. Believe or not, the rate of 2 consecutive low
birth weight baby is very low in a healthy woman.
2. Stop smoking
Women who smoking during pregnancy are at twice as risk to give birth of a low eight baby that non smoking women.
3. 17 alpha-hydroxyprogesterone caproate (17P).
In some case, when it is absolutely necessary, injection P17 may be
given, depending to the diagnosis. Acording to the study reported in the
New England Journal of Medicine (N Engl J Med 2003; 348:2379-85),
showed that 17P treatment reduced preterm birth by 34 percent in women
pregnant with a single baby who had a previous preterm delivery.
4. Balancing diet
For more information of healthy diet, please visit 100+ Healthy Foods Classification
The American Pregnancy Association recommends alterations to your diet, including
Protein in your foods positively affects the growth of fetal tissue,
including the brain. It also helps your breast and uterine tissue to
grow during pregnancy,
a. 75 to 100 grams of protein per day as it can be divided into 2-3
servings of meat (1 serving = approximately 3 ounces/ size of a deck of
cards) from chicken lean beef, lamb, pork, nut and tofu (1 serving =
approximately ⅓ cup), etc.
b. 2-3 servings of legumes (1 serving = approximately ½ cup) such as red and white kidney beans,black beans, navy beans etc..
Daily requirement of calcium is around 1000 milligrams during
pregnancy. Calcium helps your body regulate fluids, and it helps build
your baby’s bones and tooth buds, such as milk (1 serving = 1 cup), eggs
(1 serving = 1 large egg), yogurt (1 serving = 1cup),pasteurized cheese
(1 serving = approximately 1.5 ounces/ or 4 playing dice stacked
together), tofu (1 serving = ½ cup), etc.
In combination with sodium, potassium, and water, iron helps
increase your blood volume and prevent anemia. A daily intake of 27
milligrams is ideal during pregnancy.
a. 2-3 servings of green leafy vegetables (1 serving = approximately 1 cup)such as collard turnip, spinach, lettuce, etc.
b. 3 servings of whole grains (1 serving = approximately. ½ cup or one slice), such as bread, cornmeal, cereal, oatmeal, etc.
4.4. Folate/Folic Acid
Folic acid plays a key role in reducing the risk of neural tube
defects, including spina bifida. Experts recommend 600 to 800 micrograms
(.6 to .8 milligrams) daily.
a. 2 servings of dark green leafy vegetables (1 serving = approximately 1 cup), such as collard, turnip, spinach, lettuce. etc.
b. 2-3 servings of fruit (1 serving = approximately ½ cup), such as orange, strawberry, lemon, mango, tomato, etc.
4.5. Vitamin C
Fruits and vegetables rich in Vitamin C will help with wound
healing, tooth and bone development, and promotes metabolic processes.
Experts recommend at least 85 milligrams per day. 3 servings of fruit or
vegetables (1 serving = approximately ½ cup), such as orange,
strawberry, lemon, mango, tomato, etc. (Source)
A. In conventional medicine
Since there is no specific treatment or prevention, closely monitors
the growth of the fetus with nutritional modification and making sure
all chronic illness are under controlled and the baby is catching up
with growth in the 18 and 24 months.
Please do not use these herbs until you have consult with your herbal medicine practitioner
1. Chamomile flowers
Chamomile flowers, the dried flower heads of the herb Matricaria
recutita is effectively used in herbal medicine to get rid of nauseating
feeling, a common symptoms during pregnancy, as well as inducing sleep.
2. Yellow dock
Yellow Dock has been used extensively as herb to cleanse or purify
the blood, thus preventing jaundice in newly born baby. Since it
contains high amount of vitamin C and iron, it ensures the pregnant
women and baby getting enough oxygen for a healthy pregnancy.
3. Ginger root
In a study of Complementary
therapies for nausea and vomiting in early pregnancy, researcher
concluded that nausea and vomiting are uncomfortable and sometimes
debilitating symptoms encountered in early pregnancy. Many of the more
conventional remedies offer only partial to negligible relief. Some
pregnant women also express scepticism regarding the safety of the more
traditionally prescribed pharmacological agents used to combat morning
sickness. Vitamin B6, ginger root and acupressure are three
complementary modalities that may help alleviate these self-limiting
discomforts. Ginger is admired world wide for its anti-inflammatory and
anti- bacterial properties. Thus, it works amazingly on morning
Echinacea, a genus of herbaceous flowering plants in the daisy family, Asteraceae has been used traditionally to treat or prevent colds, flu, and other infections by enhancing the immune system. In a study of pregnancy
outcome following gestational exposure to echinacea: a prospective
controlled study by Gallo M, Sarkar M, Au W, Pietrzak K, Comas B, Smith
M, Jaeger TV, Einarson A, Koren G. researchers found that gestational
use of echinacea during organogenesis is not associated with an
increased risk for major malformations.
5. Red Raspberry leaf
Red Raspberry leaf has been used in herbal medicine as herbal tonic
for pregnancy by tonifying the uterus, preventing miscarriage and
decreasing constipation due to containing many minerals and vitamins,
including vitamin C, calcium and an alkaloid uterus tonifier called
Nettles are species of flowering plants of the genus Urtica in the family Urticaceae contained Vitamins
A, C, D and K, calcium, potassium, phosphorous, iron and sulphur of
which are necessary for providing nutrients a healthy mother and her
baby. The herb has been used in herbal medicine to stop excessive
bleeding (vitamin K), prevent hemorrhoids, ease leg cramps and other
spasms, nourish and protect the mother and unborn.
C. Traditional Chinese medicine
Please do not use these herbs until you have consult with your traditional Chinese medicine practitioner
Dang Gui Shao Yao San is one the recommended formula
because it is extensively used in China and Japan and has been monitored
in many large-scale clinical trials with pregnant women. The formula
was first recommended for use during pregnancy in the Jin Gui Yao Lue,
and has been used regularly for the past 1,800 years. In animal studies
researchers found that Dang Gui Shao Yao San showed no teratogenic
effects (tendency to cause birth defects). The formula has been used to
treat female infertility, morning sickness, anemia during pregnancy, and
to prevent miscarriage and approved by the Japanese Ministry of Health.
The formula used to avoid miscarriage or to treat a variety of
pregnancy disorders, but it is also employed as a blood tonic and
treatment for mental distress associated with blood deficiency. It
includes peony, Chinese angelica root, cnidium, atractylodes, hoelen and
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