Effect of low birth weight on neonatal mortality in preterm and small for gestational age babies in a tertiary neonatal intensive care unit in India

Smitha D’Sa, Deepak Pinto, Anousha A, B. S. Baliga


Background:Neonatal mortality is an increasingly important public health issue in developing countries. Low birth weight is the single most important factor affecting neonatal mortality. Globally low birth weight accounts for 10% of neonatal mortality. The purpose of our study was to find out the impact of low birth weight on neonatal mortality and its effect on preterm and small for gestational age babies in a tertiary care center in India.

Methods: 173 consecutive, low birth weight neonates weighing less than 2.5 kilograms referred to a tertiary care center over a period of one year were included. Age, gender, gestational age, birth weight, comorbid conditions and clinical outcome were recorded prospectively. Neonates were divided into two groups. 83 preterm low birth weight neonates (<37 weeks of gestation, New Ballard score) and 90 term small for gestational age neonates (<10th percentile of gestational age, IAP charts). Mortality data was analyzed using SPSS version 11.5 and Chi square test result with P<0.05 was considered as significant.

Results:Preterm neonatal mortality was 32.5 percent (27 neonates). Neonatal mortality was 18.9 percent                     (17 neonates) in term small for gestational age babies. Major causes of death in low birth weight neonates were prematurity and its associated causes (43%) followed by congenital anomalies (34%) and birth asphyxia (14%). Other minor causes include inborn errors of metabolism.

Conclusions:Preterms are more susceptible to death compared to small for gestational age babies in a tertiary intensive care unit. 


Preterm, Small for gestational age, Low birth weight, Neonatal mortality

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