Births by birth weight, age of mother and prenatal care

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Why This Indicator Matters

An infant's weight at birth can be a decisive indicator of the newborn's chances for survival, growth, long-term health and psychosocial development. Many causes of infant low birth-weight can be linked to the mother's behavior or health during pregnancy. Factors linked with low birth-weight include: tobacco use, alcohol or drug use, poor nutrition, excessive stress and anxiety, inadequate prenatal care, chronic maternal illness, premature labor, low weight of mother, genetic disorders or short interval between pregnancies. Babies who are born very low in birth-weight can face a variety of negative outcomes including an increased risk of infant mortality, heightened risk for long term disability and impaired development such as delayed motor and social development. It is important to note that access to healthcare and health education varies for women depending on financial and cultural environments. Women of color, women at lower education levels and unmarried women tend to have adverse social and economic support structures and therefore less access to prenatal services.
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