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PLoS One. 2012;7(7):e40040. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0040040. Epub 2012 Jul 5.

Factors affecting birth weight of a newborn--a community based study in rural Karnataka, India.

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Department of Community Medicine, KLE University, Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College, Belgaum, Karnataka, India.



Low birth weight (LBW) is a major public health problem in many developing countries, especially so in India. Although we do not know all the causes of LBW, maternal and environmental factors appear to be significant risk factors in its occurrence.


To know the factors affecting the birth weight of a newborn and to estimate the prevalence of LBW.


The present study was carried out amongst 1138 pregnant women and their newborns residing in area covered by Kinaye Primary Health Centre in rural Karnataka, India. The study was conducted from 1(st) June 2008 to 31(st) December 2009.


The mean birth weight of newborns was 2.6 kg with a range of 1.2 to 3.8 kg. The prevalence of LBW was 22.9%. Among the studied risk factors, 25 of them were significantly associated with the birth weight of a newborn on univariate logistic regression analysis. Maternal education [Odds Ratio (OR) 3.2], exposure to passive smoking [OR 2.3], age at first pregnancy ≥25 years [OR 3.6], birth interval <2 years [OR 2.4], previous history of LBW baby [OR 3.3], weight gain ≤4 kg during pregnancy [OR 7.0], maternal weight at last week of gestation ≤45 kg [OR 2.3], pregnancy induced hypertension [OR 3.3], high risk pregnancy [OR 3.6] and late antenatal registration [OR 3.6] emerged as significant risk factors on multivariate analysis.


The problem of LBW is multidimensional, and hence, we need an integrated approach incorporating medical, social, economical and educational measures to address this issue.

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