THURSDAY, May 16, 2019 (HealthDay News) — From 2000 to 2015, there was a reduction in the estimated worldwide prevalence of low birth weight (LBW), according to a study published online May 15 in The Lancet Global Health.

Hannah Blencowe, M.B.Ch.B., from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, and colleagues aimed to identify all available LBW data for livebirths for 2000 to 2016. Population-based national or nationally representative datasets were considered for inclusion if they contained information on birth weight or LBW prevalence for livebirths. Overall, 1,447 country-years of birth weight data were obtained for 148 countries of 195 U.N. member states.

The researchers found that in 2015, the estimated worldwide prevalence of LBW was 14.6 percent, compared with 17.5 percent in 2000 (average annual reduction rate [AARR], 1.23 percent). An estimated 20.5 million live births were LBW in 2015 and were mainly from low- and middle-income countries (91 percent), specifically southern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa (48 and 24 percent, respectively).

“Progress in reducing LBW prevalence (AARR, 1.23 percent) is insufficient to reach the global nutrition targets, which will require an AARR of 2.74 percent,” the authors write. “Targeted action to address the underlying causes of LBW (preterm birth and fetal growth restriction) and improved care for those born with LBW is needed to ensure that all realize their full potential to survive and thrive.”

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