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BMJ. 1997 May 10;314(7091):1376-80.

Mothers' birth weight and survival of their offspring: population based study.

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  • 1Section for Medical Informatics and Statistics, University of Bergen, Norway.



To test the hypothesis that a baby's survival is related to the mother's birth weight.


Population based dataset for two generations.


Population registry in Norway.


All birth records for women born in Norway since 1967 were linked to births during 1981-94, thereby forming 105104 mother-offspring units.


Perinatal mortality specific for weight for offspring in groups of maternal birth weight (with 500 g categories in both).


A mother's birth weight was strongly associated with the weight of her baby. Maternal birth weight was associated with perinatal survival of her baby only for mothers with birth weights under 2000 g. These mothers were more likely to lose a baby in the perinatal period (odds ratio 2.3, 95% confidence interval 1.4 to 3.7). Among mothers with a birth weight over 2000 g there was no overall association between mother's weight and infant survival. There was, however, a strong interaction between mother's birth weight, infant birth weight, and infant survival. Mortality among small babies was much higher for those whose mothers had been large at birth. For example, babies weighing 2500-2999 g had a threefold higher mortality if their mother's birth weight had been high (> or = 4000 g) than if the mother had been small (2500-2999 g).


Mothers who weighed less than 2000 g at birth have a higher risk of losing their own babies. For mothers who weighed > or = 2000 g their birth weight provides a benchmark for judging the growth of their offspring. Babies who are small relative to their mother's birth weight are at increased risk of mortality.

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