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Background Low birth weight (LBW) is a leading risk factor for infant morbidity and mortality in the United States. There are large disparities in the prevalence of LBW by race and ethnicity, especially between African American and White women. Despite extensive research, the practice of clinical and public health, and policies devoted to reducing the number of LBW infants, the prevalence of LBW has remained unacceptably and consistently high. There have been few detailed studies identifying the factors associated with LBW in California, which is home to a highly diverse population. The aim of this study is to investigate recent trends in the prevalence of LBW infants (measured as a percentage) and to identify risk factors and disparities associated with LBW in California. Methods A retrospective cohort study included data on 5,267,519 births recorded in the California Birth Statistical Master Files for the period 2005-2014. These data included maternal characteristics, health behaviors, information on health insurance, prenatal care use, and parity. Logistic regression models identified significant risk factors associated with LBW. Using gestational age based on obstetric estimates (OA), small for gestational age (SGA), appropriate for gestational age (AGA) and large for gestational age (LGA) infants were identified for the periods 2007-2014. Results The number of LBW infants declined, from 37,603 in 2005 to 33,447 in 2014. However, the prevalence of LBW did not change significantly (6.9% in 2005 to 6.7% in 2014). The mean maternal age at first delivery increased from 25.7 years in 2005 to 27.2 years in 2014. The adjusted odds ratio showed that women aged 40 to 54 years were twice as likely to have an LBW infant as women in the 20 to 24 age group. African American women had a persistent 2.4-fold greater prevalence of having an LBW infant compared with white women. Maternal age was a significant risk factor for LBW regardless of maternal race and ethnicity or education level. During the period 2017-2014, 5.4% of the singleton births at 23-41 weeks based on OE of gestational age were SGA infants (preterm SGA + term SGA). While all the preterm SGA infants were LBW, both preterm AGA and term SGA infants had a higher prevalence of LBW. Conclusions In California, during the 10 years from 2005 to 2014, there was no significant decline in the prevalence of LBW. However, maternal age was a significant risk factor for LBW regardless of maternal race and ethnicity or education level. Therefore, there may be opportunities to reduce the prevalence of LBW by reducing disparities and improving birth outcomes for women of advanced maternal age.
Ratnasiri, A. W. G., Parry, S. S., Arief, V. N., DeLacy, I. H., Halliday, L. A., DiLibero, R. J., & Basford, K. E. (2018). Recent trends, risk factors, and disparities in low birth weight in California, 2005–2014: a retrospective study. Maternal Health, Neonatology and Perinatology, 4(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s40748-018-0084-2