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Ann Trop Paediatr. 1996 Dec;16(4):327-33.

Maternal factors influencing the occurrence of low birthweight in northern Vietnam.

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Institute for Protection of Children's Health, Hanoi, Vietnam.


The relationship between the birthweight of newborn infants and their mothers' health characteristics as well as socio-economic status were studied in 1474 consecutive deliveries from eight areas in the delta region of north Vietnam. The results showed that the proportion of low birthweight (LBW) infants varied from 7.9% to 12.5%. Body mass index (BMI) of the mothers, good nutrition during pregnancy and maternity leave before delivery were negatively associated with the occurrence of LBW. The association between chronic energy deficiency (low BMI) and LBW was seen only among the farming women. Measures should be taken to reduce the workload and to supply sufficient food for pregnant women, and special priority should be given to rural areas.


This study examines the prevalence of low-birth-weight (LBW) deliveries among a sample of women from 17 communes in five provinces in the Red River delta region of north Vietnam during 1992-93. The final sample included 1474 consecutive deliveries from five rural and three urban areas. Trained medical staff measured the weight and height of newborns and mothers after delivery. Body mass index (BMI) was used to determine maternal energy deficiency. Gestational age was determined by measuring the time interval between the last menstrual period and delivery. Maternal diet was categorized as very poor (rice and vegetables only), poor (rice and some supplementary food), or sufficient (rice and enough supplementary food). Findings indicate that LBW deliveries amounted to 7.9% in rural Ha Tay (health center deliveries), 10.5% in rural Nam Ha (health center deliveries), and 8.5% in rural Thai Binh (home deliveries). The number of LBW deliveries was very low in urban Hanoi and in the Nam Dinh factory hospital. LBW infants did not vary by gender. LBW deliveries were more prevalent for first-born children (12% among girls and 7% among boys). Farming mothers were twice as likely to have a LBW delivery. LBW deliveries were less common among mothers who had made over four prenatal visits. An increase in the likelihood of delivering a LBW infant was associated with insufficient food intake, heavy physical work during pregnancy, and chronic energy deficiency. LBW was independently associated with BMI, food availability during pregnancy, maternity leave before delivery, and parity. Farming mothers with a BMI under 18.5 had three times the risk of having a LBW delivery than normal mothers. 94% of farming mothers and only 40% of nonfarming mothers had insufficient food intake. LBW deliveries were more common in the summer and autumn. 8% showed some disease during pregnancy, such as toxemia, infectious diseases, or other diseases. LBW risk doubled with any of these conditions.

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