Labor & Delivery

Q&A: What Causes Low Birth Weight?

What causes low birth weight?

A baby is considered to have low birth weight if he's less than 5 lbs., 8 oz. Being that small at birth increases a baby's chance of having serious health problems or disabilities. Factors that can make you more likely to have a baby with low birth weight include health problems, like infection, cervical incompetence or issues with the uterus or placenta, and lifestyle choices, like smoking and drinking during pregnancy. A premature baby is more likely to have low birth weight, and one of the biggest risk factors for preterm birth is carrying multiples.

By Ashley S. Roman, MD, ob-gyn and clinical assistant professor at New York University School of Medicine