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PLoS One. 2018 Nov 14;13(11):e0206207. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0206207. eCollection 2018.

Socio-demographic determinants of low birth weight: Evidence from the Kassena-Nankana districts of the Upper East Region of Ghana.

Author information

Navrongo Health Research Centre, Navrongo, Ghana.
INDEPTH-Network Secretariat, Accra, Ghana.
Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, University of Basel, Basel, Switzerland.
Regional Institute for Population Studies, University of Ghana, Accra, Ghana.
Julius Centre for Health Sciences and Primary Care, UMCU, Utrecht, The Netherlands.



To examine the social, economic and demographic factors that determine low birth weight in the two Kassena Nankana districts of the Upper East region of Ghana.


Cross-sectional data was collected from January 2009 to December 2011 using the Navrongo Health and Demographic Surveillance System which monitors routine health and demographic outcomes in the study area. Data on foetal characteristics such as birth weight, and sex and maternal age, parity, maternal education, marital status, ethnicity, religious affiliation and socio-economic characteristics were collected and described. Tests of means, proportions and Chi-squares are employed in bivariate analysis, and adjusted logistic regression models fitted to control for potential confounding variables. All tests were two-sided and test of significance was set at p-value of < 0.05.


There were 8,263 live births (44.9% females) with an overall average birth weight of 2.85 kg (2.9 kg for males and 2.8 kg for females). The average maternal age was 28 years, median parity 2, maternal literacy rate was about 70% and 83% of mothers were married. The prevalence of low birth weight was 13.8% 95%CI [13.10, 14.6] and more in female babies than in males (15.5% vs 12.2%; p<0.0001). Determinants of low birth-weight after controlling for confounding factors were sex of neonate (OR = 1.32, 95%CI [1.14,1.52]; p<0.0001), maternal age (p = 0.004), and mothers who are not married (OR = 1.44 [1.19, 1.74]; p<0.0001).


Female neonates in this population were likely to present with low birth weight and maternal factors such as younger age, lower socio-economic status and single parenthood were major determinants of low birth weight. Effective and adequate antenatal care should therefore target women with these risk factors.

Conflict of interest statement

The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

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