Information

Information

Information and Resources
[Print page (PDF, 21KB)]

  • What is low birth weight?
    • Birth weight is the first weight of the newborn obtained after birth. A baby is considered low birth weight when it weighs less than 5.5 lbs (2500 grams) at birth.

      The WI EPHT is using low birth weight as a marker for fetal growth retardation.

  • What is the relationship between low birth weight and environmental health?
    • The condition of low birth weight has been associated with exposure during pregnancy to lead, solvents, pesticides, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) which are a group of over 100 contaminants produced by burning fuels such as coal (PAHs), and other types of air pollution.

      A low birth weight birth can occur from slow fetal growth over a full term pregnancy, being born premature or both. These conditions often have separate causes, where a specific factor may be related to one of these conditions but not the other. For example, smoking during pregnancy has been found to be more related to babies born too small (low birth weight) than born too early (prematurity).

  • What is the relationship between low birth weight and environmental health?
    • The condition of low birth weight has been associated with exposure during pregnancy to lead, solvents, pesticides, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) which are a group of over 100 contaminants produced by burning fuels such as coal (PAHs), and other types of air pollution.

      A low birth weight birth can occur from slow fetal growth over a full term pregnancy, being born premature or both. These conditions often have separate causes, where a specific factor may be related to one of these conditions but not the other. For example, smoking during pregnancy has been found to be more related to babies born too small (low birth weight) than born too early (prematurity).

  • What are the health effects?
    • Compared to babies of normal weight, low birth weight babies may be at increased risk of illness from birth through the first six days of the baby’s life (perinatal morbidity), infections, and the longer-term consequences of impaired development, such as delayed motor and social development or learning disabilities.

  • What can I do to prevent having a low birth weight baby?
    • Early and continuous prenatal care helps identify conditions and behavior that can result in low birth weight babies, such as smoking, drug and alcohol abuse, inadequate weight gain during pregnancy and repeat pregnancy in six months or less.

      Infants born to teenage mothers are at higher risk of being born low birth weight babies and have a higher infant mortality rate.

      There are some steps a woman can take to reduce her risk of having a low birth weight baby.
      * Quit smoking.
      * If you plan to become pregnant, then see your health care provider for a medical checkup.
      * Work with your health care provider to control diseases such as high blood pressure or diabetes.
      * Get prenatal care early, as soon as you think you may be pregnant, and throughout the pregnancy.
      * Discuss concerns during pregnancy with your health care provider, and seek medical attention for any warning signs or symptoms of preterm labor.
      * Take a daily multivitamin containing 400 micrograms of folic acid, starting before and throughout pregnancy.

All external hyperlinks are provided for your information and for the benefit of the general public. The Department of Health Services does not testify to, sponsor, or endorse the accuracy of the information provided on externally linked pages.

Last Revised: January 28, 2014

Data

Data Query

Access the low birthweight data in the WI EPHT online database.

The WI EPHT online database has data about other reproductive outcomes. Review the Data Details below to learn about interpreting the data.

Data Details

What is the data source?

The website provides data from the statistical resident birth and death files, maintained by the Wisconsin Vital Statistics Records Office, Wisconsin Department of Health Services. This office also provides reproductive outcomes data on the Wisconsin Interactive Statistics on Health.

How does WI EPHT measure reproductive outcomes?

The WI EPHT website includes the following measures:

  • Annual percent of singleton premature babies by state by gender by age by race
    • Annual count of singleton premature babies by state by gender by age by race
    • Annual percent of singleton very premature babies by state by gender by age by race
    • Annual count of singleton very premature babies by state by gender by age by race
    • Annual percent of low birth weight babies by state by gender by age by race
    • Annual percent of singleton low birth weight babies by state by gender by age by race
    • Annual birth rate per 1,000 babies by state by gender by age by race
    • Annual infant mortality rate per 1,000 babies by state by gender by age by race
    • Annual perinatal mortality rate per 1,000 babies by state
    • Annual perinatal mortality counts by state
    • Multi-year neonatal mortality rate per 1,000 babies by state by gender by age by race
    • Multi-year neonatal mortality count of babies by state by gender by age by race
    • Annual neonatal mortality rate per 1,000 babies by state
    • Annual neonatal mortality count of babies by state
    • Multi-year post-neonatal mortality rate per 1,000 babies by state by gender by age by race
    • Multi-year post-neonatal mortality count of babies by state by gender by age by race
    • Annual post-neonatal mortality rate per 1,000 babies by state
    • Annual post-neonatal mortality count of babies by state
    • Annual singleton birth count by state by gender by age by race
    • Annual singleton birth rate per 1,000 babies by state by gender by age by race
    • Annual total birth count by state by gender by age by race
    • Annual total fertility rate by state
    • Annual singleton sex ratio by state

    • Annual percent of low birth weight babies by county
    • Annual percent of singleton low birth weight babies by county
    • Annual percent of singleton premature babies by county
    • Annual count of singleton premature babies by county
    • Annual percent of singleton very premature babies by county
    • Annual count of singleton very premature babies by county
    • Annual birth rate per 1,000 babies by county
    • Annual singleton birth count by county
    • Annual singleton birth rate per 1,000 babies by county
    • Annual total birth count by county
    • Annual total fertility rate by county
    • Multiple years of infant mortality rate per 1,000 babie by county
    • Multiple years of infant mortality count by county
    • Multiple years of perinatal mortality rate per 1,000 babies by county
    • Multiple years of perinatal mortality counts by county
    • Multiple years of neonatal mortality rate per 1,000 babies by county
    • Multiple years of neonatal mortality counts by county
    • Multiple years of post-neonatal mortality rate per 1,000 babies by county
    • Multiple years of post-neonatal mortality counts by county
    • Annual singleton sex ratio by county
  • What are some considerations for interpreting the data?

    While significant effort is made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the data, there are limitations that are listed below:

    • There are cooperative exchange procedures in place to help ensure data are included for Wisconsin residents born in other states, but it is possible not all other states have provided complete information at the time this report was created. The numbers are likely quite small, and thus the incompleteness probably has limited impact on the measures provided from the EPHT program.
    • The measures are based on responses recorded on the birth certificate. There is not separate reporting specific to these reproductive outcomes.

    There are many factors that can contribute to a disease and should be considered when interpreting the data. Some of these include:

    • Demographics, e.g., race, gender, age
    • Socioeconomic Status, e.g., income level, education
    • Geographic, e.g., urban vs. rural
    • Changes in the medical field, e.g., diagnosis patterns, reporting requirements
    • Individual behavior, e.g., diet, smoking