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September 20, 1985

Preventing Low Birthweight

Author Affiliations

Northwestern University Chicago

JAMA. 1985;254(11):1517-1518. doi:10.1001/jama.1985.03360110113035

This article is only available in the PDF format. Download the PDF to view the article, as well as its associated figures and tables.


In recent years approximately 7% of liveborn infants in the United States weighed less than 2,500 g (low birth weight) and slightly more than 1% weighed less than 1,500 g (very low birth weight). These percentages translate to roughly a quarter million low-birth weight infants per year and 40,000 very low-birth weight infants per year. This report, commissioned by the Institute of Medicine, is an excellent summary of the current knowledge about low birth weight and of several approaches toward reducing its incidence. The report should provide a readable synthesis of the low-birth weight problem for experts and more general readers alike. Experts will find useful the appendix material and suggested areas for future research.

The report is divided into two major parts. The first part covers definitions, the significance of low birth weight, etiology and risk factors, and recent trends. The second part discusses promising interventions to reduce the