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Low weight classified as preterm birth is a baby born with the gestational age of fewer than 37 weeks and less than 2500g in birth weight(WHO, 2018).Aside from the numerous threats in growth and maturity, low birth weight babies do experience disruption in the brain development process, and as a result, they are at greater risk for varieties of health problems such as developmental delay, psychological and intellectual functioning in the growth process.(WHO, 2018)
Effect of Low Birthweight on Families and Communities:
Babies might not adjust well to an external environment.
The care for these babies puts financial burdens on immediate families and communities where resources are needed to support and care for these children.
Parents feel overwhelmed and emotionally and psychologically drained providing care.
Balancing caring for a baby with siblings is difficult for parents.
Frequent Hospitalization is necessary, and sometimes babies are kept in neonatal intensive care units.
Babies are prone to developing neurological defects, which might result in an intellectual and mental delay.
Infection and other disease risks are high due to organs not adequately developed at birth, leading to frequent visits to the doctor(WHO, 2018).
Low birth weight babies are prone to poor thermoregulation.
The infection rate is very high, regular use of medications.
Above-average use of health services.
Risk for hypoglycemia.
Risk for hypoxia.
Breathing problems due to premature lungs developmentIntraventricular hemorrhage likelihood(WHO, 2018).
Decrease in neurological development and functions due to brain injury and brain development.
Anatomical or functional abnormalities and very limited in activities.
Risk for retinopathy of prematurity, i.e., one eye disease common with low birth weight babies.
Risk for mental retardation and developmental disabilities.Risk for cerebral palsy(WHO, 2018).
The care for premature babies could have adverse financial and social effects on both the parents, immediate families, and the communities trying to assist with the respect for the baby(March of Dimes, 2018)
The baby might develop other health issues such as:Hypertension(cardiovascular); heart disease.DiabetesOverweight/obese Metabolic syndromeIntellectual and developmental disabilities(March of Dimes, 2018)
According to the research studies conducted at the Washington state university graduate program, it was discovered that Filipino, Asian Indian, non-Hispanic black women have the highest incidences of low birth weight. Also, Chinese, Korean, and non-Hispanic white women have the lowest incidence of low birth weight. These disparities exist due to socioeconomic factors, little or no access to healthcare, maternal education, smoking, inadequate prenatal care, and pregnancy complication such as pregnancy-induced hypertension, obesity, and gestational diabetes among the high-risk population(University of Washington [School of Public Health], 2017)
There are various support groups in our community providing parents and families with low birth babies. An example is the children’s healthcare of Atlanta in Georgia, where support such as Kangaroo mother care, exclusive breastfeeding, and warmth are provided to these babies. They also provide families with community home care referrals for follow-up care.
March of Dimes. (2018). LOW BIRTHWEIGHT. https://doi.org/www.marchofdime.org
University of Washington. (2017). Racial and ethnic disparities in low birth weight differ by maternal birthplace. https://doi.org/www.universityofwashington.edu
WHO. (2018). Care of the preterm and low-birth-weight newborn. https://doi.org/www.who.org
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