United States

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Quick Facts: Birthweight

Low birthweight is defined as less than 2500 grams or 5 1/2 pounds. It is also common to classify low birthweight births into moderately low birthweight (1500-2499 grams) and very low birthweight (less than 1500 grams or 3 1/3 pounds). These classifications are useful because they often correspond to clinical characteristics - increasing morbidities or illnesses with decreasing birthweight. Babies born too small are often born too soon. While the causes of low birthweight and preterm birth may be different in some cases, there is significant overlap within these populations of infants.

• In 2016, 1 in 12 babies (8.2% of live births) was low birthweight in the United States.
• In 2016, the low birthweight rate in the United States (8.2%) had not met the Healthy People 2020 objective of no more than 7.8% of live births, set by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
• Black infants (13.3%) were about 2 times as likely as white infants (7.0%) to be born low birthweight during 2014-2016 (average)
• Compared with singleton births, multiple births in the United States were about 9 times as likely to be low birthweight in 2016.
• For more detailed data, click on the topic edit button in search tool on left side, select one of the Subtopics from drop down list under this topic. Here you'll find more graphs, maps, and tables that pertain to this topic.
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  • National Center for Health Statistics, final natality data.
  • Retrieved August 22, 2019, from www.marchofdimes.org/peristats.