DefinitionPercent of live-born infants delivered with a birth weight of less than 2,500 grams (low birth weight) or less than 1,500 grams (very low birth weight)
2,500 grams is about 5 lbs, 8 oz and 1,500 grams is about 3 lbs, 5 oz.
NumeratorNumber of live-born infants with a birth weight of less than 2,500 grams (LBW) or less than 1,500 grams (VLBW) born to resident mothers
DenominatorNumber of live infants born to resident mothers
Why Is This Important?Low birth weight (LBW) increases the risk for infant morbidity and mortality. LBW infants are at greater risk of dying in the first month of life. LBW infants may require intensive care at birth and are at higher risk of developmental disabilities and chronic illnesses throughout life. They are more likely to require special education services. Health care costs and length of hospital stay are higher for LBW infants.
Healthy People Objective: Low birth weight (LBW)U.S. Target: 7.8 percent
State Target: 7.7 percent
Other Objectives'''Revised Healthy New Jersey 2020 Objective MCH-2a''': Reduce low birth weight (LBW) to 7.7% for the total population, 6.0% among Whites, 12.4% among Blacks, 7.1% among Hispanics, and 7.9% among Asians.
'''Revised Healthy New Jersey 2020 Objective MCH-2b''': Reduce very low birth weight (VLBW) to 1.3% among the total and Hispanic populations, 0.9% among Whites, 2.9% among Blacks, and 1.0% among Asians.
'''Original Healthy New Jersey 2020 Objective MCH-2a''': Reduce low birth weight (LBW) to 7.7% for the total population, 6.9% among Whites, 12.4% among Blacks, 7.1% among Hispanics, and 7.9% among Asians.
'''Original Healthy New Jersey 2020 Objective MCH-2b''': Reduce very low birth weight (VLBW) to 1.4% among the total and Hispanic populations, 1.2% among Whites, 2.9% among Blacks, and 1.0% among Asians.
How Are We Doing?Birth weight is highly correlated with plurality and gestational age. While 2.3% of full term singletons are of low birth weight (LBW), nearly one-quarter of full term twins are born at a weight below 2,500 grams. Similarly, 1.0% of singletons are of very low birth weight (VLBW) compared to 9.1% of twins and over one-third of triplets.
In New Jersey, the average birth weight is 3,258 grams or 7 lbs 3 oz. The overall LBW rate reached an all time high of 8.4% in 2011 but has since declined. The very low birth weight rate among New Jersey births had been around 1.5% since the 1990s before declining to 1.4% in 2015.
LBW rates vary widely across the state and by several maternal and infant characteristics. Black mothers are more likely to deliver LBW (12.3%) and VLBW (2.9%) infants than are other racial/ethnic groups. The only exception is LBW among full term singletons where the rate among Asian mothers is the same as the rate among Black mothers (3.6%).
The LBW rate among all births and VLBW among singletons is highest for the youngest (15-19 years) and the oldest (40-44) mothers. LBW among full term singletons decreases with increasing maternal age, while VLBW among all births is highest among older (40-44) mothers.
Overall LBW rates for New Jersey's counties range from 6% in Morris and Sussex to 10% in Cumberland County.
How Do We Compare With the U.S.?The low birth weight rate among New Jersey mothers is below that of the nation as a whole, but the very low birth weight rate is about the same for New Jersey and the U.S.
What Is Being Done?The [http://www.nj.gov/health/fhs/ Division of Family Health Services] in the New Jersey Department of Health administers programs to enhance the health, safety and well-being of families and communities in New Jersey. Several programs are aimed at improving birth outcomes.