Low birth weight and preterm babies in United States is increasing. Low birth weight babies are babies who are born with the birth weight of less than 5 lbs. either due to preterm delivery or due to restriction of growth inside the uterus. These low birth weight babies are at increased risk for early death and long-term health and developmental issues than infants born later in pregnancy or at higher birth weights. Not all preterm infants are low birth weight, and vice versa.
Racial/Ethnic and Socioeconomic Disparities:
Disparities in racial and culture exist with preterm and low birth weight infants. According to child health USA 2010 report, low birth weight infants who were born to non-Hispanic black women were more than the infants born to other racial and ethnic group. The infants born to non- Hispanic black women was 3.0 percent whereas the infants born to non- Hispanic white women was only 1.2 percent. The American Indian was 1.3 percent and the all other races were 1.5 percent with low birth weight infants.
Causes for preterm and low birth weight babies:
Previous delivery of low birth weight babies or preterm deliveries. Teen of age less than 20 years or advanced maternal age of greater than 35 years. Any maternal health problems such as hypertension, Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD’s). Use of substance abuse during pregnancy such as alcohol, cigarette smoking and cocaine use. Low socio-economic status with no medical insurance, Lack of nutrition at the time of pregnancy. Physical and mental stress during pregnancy.
Violence, abuse or exposures to secondhand smoke are some of the causes for preterm and low birth weight infants (Morrin, 2008, p.8).
Impact on family and society:
Preterm and low birth weight infants possess greater risk not only for the infants, but also for the families and the society as well. The impact of very low-birth-weight infants on the family is long lasting. Preterm infants born at less than 34 weeks are at high risk for poor outcomes, including chronic health conditions, long-term disability, and death. The loss of a baby can be a devastating experience for a family. Many preterm and low birth weight infants that survive the perinatal period are vulnerable to a host of childhood morbidities such as cerebral palsy, chronic lung disease, and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Adolescents born prior to 35 weeks of completed gestation have been shown to have a higher degree of abnormal brain development and cognitive and behavioral problems than adolescents born full-term.
These poorer birth outcomes have also been associated with serious health conditions in adulthood, such as cardiovascular disease, Type II diabetes, and hypertension. The financial costs associated with treating preterm labor and delivery is quite high. The parents of low birth weight infants have higher scores for financial burden, familial/social impact, personal strain, and mastery. And they experience more impact when children had a functional handicap or low adaptive developmental quotient (“APHA: Policy Statement Database”, August 11, 2006).
In the society they cause more medical costs due to the length of stay in neonatal intensive care unit. Usually women with poor socio economic conditions, homeless are greatest risk for low birth weight infants and they have no medical insurances. This possesses greater impact on the society because their costs have to be picked up by Medicaid or the hospital system.
Regarding community resources, I feel there are enough resources available in the community for preterm infants and their families, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is currently promoting preconception and post conception care as critical to improve the health of the nation. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to improve outcomes for the mother and her family. New Jersey has lots of support services for pregnant women and women with low birth weight infants, they are,
Nutrition programs, food banks, and food stamps
Financial assistance for medical care, utilities, and unemployment benefits
Organizations for children with special developmental or medical needs
Start and other educational programs
Medical care and insurance resources
Counseling services and more (Preemie care, n.d).
APHA: Policy Statement Database. (August 11, 2006). Retrieved April 15, 2014, from http://www.apha.org/advocacy/policy/policysearch/default.htm?id=1326
Morrin, J. (2008, September). Addressing Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Low Birth weight for Connecticut. Retrieved April 15, 2014, from http://www.ct.gov/dph/lib/dph/family_health/health_disparities_in_lbw_final_report_10_1_08.pdf
Preemie Care -RSV (Respiratory syncytial virus) Awareness & Prevention. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.preemiecare.org/supportgroups.htm#NJ
Very Low Birth Weight – Child Health USA 2010. (n.d.). Retrieved April 15, 2014, from http://www.mchb.hrsa.gov/chusa10/hstat/hsi/pages/203vlbw.html.