Birthweight and early neonatal health: Bangladesh perspective


Dr Md. Anayet Ullah, Department of Medical Education, School of Medical Sciences, Universiti Sains Malaysia, 16150 Kubang Kerian, Kelantan, Malaysia.


It has been suggested that a birthweight limit of 2.5 kg should not be regarded as valid for all populations as the cut-off point of low-weight births because of demographic, genetic and environmental differences. Countries often choose alternative cut-off values for low birthweight for clinical purposes. Bangladesh also needs to choose a convenient cut-off value for low birthweight. A total of 770 live singleton full-term normal newborns were included in this study by stratified sampling; birthweight was measured using the Detecto-type baby weight machine. Newborns were followed up to the end of their first week of life. For data collection a pretested structured questionnaire and an Apgar Score estimating checklist were used. Chi-square test was applied to assess the association of different birthweight strata and neonatal health outcomes. Multiple logistic regression analyses were carried out to identify the independent effects of different levels of birthweight on early neonatal health.

The neonates having birthweight ≤2 kg had a significantly higher risk of early neonatal mortality and morbidity than the higher level birthweight group. Birth asphyxia was the commonest cause of early neonatal mortality and morbidity. Borderline birthweight (>2 to <2.5 kg) neonates experienced the same mortality and morbidity rates as the normal birthweight neonates during their early neonatal life. Birthweight ≤2 kg may be one of the criteria for admission to a neonatal intensive care unit whereas more than 2 kg may not require admission unless otherwise necessary.