Research Article: Risk factors for low birth weight in hospitals of North Wello zone, Ethiopia: A case-control study

Date Published: March 20, 2019

Publisher: Public Library of Science

Author(s): Tesfahun Mulatu Wachamo, Nigus Bililign Yimer, Asmamaw Demis Bizuneh, Eduardo Ortiz-Panozo.


Low birth weight at birth is an important underlying contributor for neonatal and infant mortality. It accounts for nearly half of all perinatal deaths. Identifying predictors of low birth weight is the first essential step in designing appropriate management strategies. Hence, this study aimed to identify risk factors for low birth weight in hospitals of northeastern Ethiopia.

An institution based case-control study design was conducted from 10th April to 15th December 2016. Three hundred sixty mother-infant pairs (120 low birth weight babies as cases and 240 normal birth weights as controls) were included in the study. Data were collected by face-to-face interview. Univariable and multivariable logistic regression models were computed to examine the effect of independent variables on outcome variable using SPSS 20.0. Variables with p-value <0.05 were considered statistically significant. The mean (±SD) gestational age and birth weight (±SD) were 39.2 (±1.38) weeks and 2800 (±612), grams respectively. Partner’s education/being illiterate (AOR: 4.09; 95% CI 1.45, 11.50), antenatal care visit at private health institutions (AOR: 0.13; 95% CI 0.02, 0.66), having history of obstetric complications (AOR: 5.70; 95% CI 2.38, 13.63), maternal weight during pregnancy (AOR: 4.04; 95% CI 1.50, 10.84) and gravidity (AOR: 0.36; 95% CI 0.18, 0.73) were significantly associated with low birth weight. Additionally, a site for water storage and water treatment were significant environmental factors. Maternal weight during pregnancy, paternal education, previous obstetric complication and place of antenatal follow-up were associated with low birth weight. The risk factors identified in this study are preventable. Thus, nutritional counseling, health education on improvement of lifestyle and early recognition and treatment of complications are the recommended interventions.

Partial Text

Low birth weight (LBW) is defined as a birth weight less than 2500g and LBW infants are at greater risk of death and disability [1]. Globally, 2.6 million newborns died in 2016. Half of these deaths occurred in India, Pakistan, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Ethiopia. The most common causes of these deaths were birth asphyxia, infection, complications of preterm birth and birth defects in the early neonatal period [2]. Thirty percent of deaths were attributed to premature birth and low birth weight[3]. According to the recent report of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the neonatal mortality rate of Ethiopia was 28 per 1000 live births in 2016 [4].

Low birth weight is one of the leading causes of neonatal mortality and is influenced by various socio-economic, maternal and environmental factors [31]. This study identified some socio-economic, obstetric and environmental risk factors for low birth weight in the study area.

This study showed that socio-demographic, maternal/obstetric and environmental characteristics were risk factors for low birth weight in the study areas. Husband educational status, place of ANC visits, previous obstetric complications, maternal weight during pregnancy and gravidity were significantly associated with low birth weight. Nutritional counseling during ANC visits for pregnant mothers and health information about obstetric complications should be advocated. Health professionals should be vigilant in early detection and management of complications during pregnancy. Additionally, efforts should be done to improve living standard and lifestyles of mothers. Community based studies are needed to better address household and environmental factors with observation.




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