Full-term Low Birth Weight: Facts & Figures


Low birth weight babies may have health risks

Low birth weight infants, born too small or too soon, may become sick during the first week of life, develop infections, or have longer-term health complications such as delayed motor and social development or learning disabilities. Infant mortality rates are much higher for low birth weight infants than for infants of normal weight.


Full-term low birth weight in Minnesota

Percent of full-term, single births that have low birth weight.

In Minnesota, full-term, low-weight births are below levels in the US. Among 2013 singleton full-term births in Minnesota, 1.9% were born low birth weight. The percent of low birth weight singleton full-term births increased from 1.5% in 2000.


Very low birth weight in Minnesota

Percent of single births that have very low birth weight.

In Minnesota, very low weight births are below levels in the US. Among 2013 singleton full-term births in Minnesota, 0.9% were born with very low birth weight.


Full-term low birth weight babies more common to Black and Asian mothers

Percent of full-term single births in Minnesota that have low birth weight, by maternal race. 2009-2013.
Note: Racial categories White, Black, Asian/Pacific Islander, and American Indian are non-Hispanic. 

Racial and ethnic disparities in low birth weight exist in Minnesota. The percent of low weight babies (among singleton, full-term births) is more than two times greater for Blacks and Asian/Pacific Islanders than for Whites.


Full-term low birth weight more common to younger and older mothers

Percent of full-term single births in Minnesota that have low birth weight, by maternal age. 2009-2013.

Low birth weight babies (full-term, singleton births) are more commonly born to younger or older mothers.


About low birth weight babies

A low birth weight baby can be born too small, too soon, or both. The MN Tracking Program limits the definition of low birth weight babies to singleton infants (single births, as opposed to twins, triplets, etc.) born at or above term (37 completed weeks of pregnancy). A low birth weight baby weighs less than 2,500 grams (5 pounds 8 ounces), and a very low birth weight baby weighs less than 1,500 grams (3 pounds, 5 ounces), regardless of the length of pregnancy. 

Some women are at greater risk of delivering a low birth weight baby

Known risk factors for having a low birth weight baby include: 

  • Inadequate weight gain during pregnancy
  • Infections
  • Placenta problems
  • Chronic disease (like maternal diabetes)
  • A previous premature birth
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol use

Other factors associated with having a low birth weight baby are:

  • Low income
  • Low education
  • Being black or African-American
  • Low or high maternal age

Increases in risk of low birth weight may also be associated with exposures to air pollution, lead, and some solvents during pregnancy.