What’s Going On? – Birth Weights In The US On The Decline


A recent article  in Medical News Today reports a perhaps concerning trend in lower birth weights for infants in the United States.  The research was performed by the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute’s Department of Population Medicine, an affiliate of Harvard Medical School, and analyzed 15 years of data from National Center for Health Statistics Natality Data Sets, looking at 36,827,828 U.S. babies born at full-term between 1990 and 2005.

As the author of the Medical News Today article, Jessica Cerretani, points out, there are potentially serious concerns about this trend.

While the decline may simply represent a reversal of previous increases in birth weights, it may also be cause for concern: babies born small not only face short-term complications such as increased likelihood of requiring intensive care after birth and even higher risk of death, they may also be at higher risk for chronic diseases in adulthood.

This study was published in Obstetrics & Gynecology, February 2010, Volume 115, No. 2, Part 1.

Maybe that picture of the chubby little cherub was ‘just right.’

As the authors of the Harvard-based study noted:

Future research may identify other factors not included in the current data that might contribute to lower birth weight, such as trends in mothers’ diets, physical activity,stress, and exposure to environmental toxins. “There’s still a lot we don’t know about the causes of low birth weight,” says Oken. “More research needs to be done.”

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