Low Birth Weight

Infants weighing less than 2500 grams at birth are defined to have low birth weight. This HCI indicator measures the proportion of infants born with low birth weights. Low birth weight may predict adverse health outcomes for infants, and may also be an indicator of maternal exposure to health risks (both physical and social), lack of health care access, and unhealthy behaviors. Infants with low birth weights have higher rates of cognitive development problems and neurological impairments, and may be at greater risk for cardiovascular disease and respiratory conditions over their lifetime. Low birth weight has also been linked to modifiable maternal behaviors, including nutrition, smoking, alcohol and substance abuse and to neighborhood characteristics. In addition to Health Systems and Public Safety, low birth weight impacts education, employment, and the economic health of a community. It is an “inverse” measure as the higher the proportion of infants born with low birth weights the greater the negative impact on neighborhood health.

Neighborhoodsort descending Indicator Value Rank
Blackstone 5.6% 3
Charles 8.0% 11
College Hill 0.0% 1
Downtown 8.5% 14
Elmhurst 7.8% 10
Elmwood 11.2% 21
Federal Hill 6.3% 6
Fox Point 0.0% 1
Hartford 10.2% 19
Hope 6.0% 5
Lower South Providence 10.6% 20
Manton 8.6% 15
Mount Hope 8.3% 13
Mount Pleasant 8.7% 16
Olneyville 9.4% 17
Reservoir 8.0% 11
Silver Lake 6.5% 7
Smith Hill 7.7% 9
South Elmwood 13.3% 25
Upper South Providence 12.2% 23
Valley 9.4% 17
Wanskuck 11.3% 22
Washington Park 12.6% 24
Wayland 5.8% 4
West End 7.1% 8

Key Citations:
1. Bailey, Beth A, and Abbie R Byrom. 2007. “Factors Predicting Birth Weight in a Low-risk Sample: The Role of Modifiable Pregnancy Health Behaviors.” Maternal and Child Health Journal 11 (2) (March): 173–179.
2. Buka, Stephen L, Robert T Brennan, Janet W Rich-Edwards, Stephen W Raudenbush, and Felton Earls. 2003. “Neighborhood Support and the Birth Weight of Urban Infants.” American Journal of Epidemiology 157 (1) (January 1): 1–8.
3. El-Mohandes, Ayman A.E., Michele Kiely, Marie G. Gantz, and M. Nabil El-Khorazaty. 2011. “Very Preterm Birth Is Reduced in Women Receiving an Integrated Behavioral Intervention: A Randomized Controlled Trial.” Maternal and Child Health Journal 15 (1) (January): 19–28.
4. Irving, R J, N R Belton, R A Elton, and B R Walker. 2000. “Adult Cardiovascular Risk Factors in Premature Babies.” Lancet 355 (9221) (June 17): 2135–2136.
5. Kim, Daniel, and Adrianna Saada. 2013. “The Social Determinants of Infant Mortality and Birth Outcomes in Western Developed Nations: a Cross-country Systematic Review.” International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 10 (6): 2296–2335.
6. Meng, Gang, Mary E Thompson, and G Brent Hall. 2013. “Pathways of Neighbourhood-level Socio-economic Determinants of Adverse Birth Outcomes.” International Journal of Health Geographics 12: 32.
7. Morenoff, Jeffrey D. 2003. “Neighborhood Mechanisms and the Spatial Dynamics of Birth Weight.” AJS; American Journal of Sociology 108 (5) (March): 976–1017.
8. Petrou, S, T Sach, and L Davidson. 2001. “The Long-term Costs of Preterm Birth and Low Birth Weight: Results of a Systematic Review.” Child: Care, Health and Development 27 (2) (March): 97–115.
9. Schempf, Ashley, Donna Strobino, and Patricia O’Campo. 2009. “Neighborhood Effects on Birthweight: An Exploration of Psychosocial and Behavioral Pathways in Baltimore, 1995--1996.” Social Science & Medicine (1982) 68 (1) (January): 100–110. Shenkin, Susan D, John M Starr, and Ian J Deary. 2004. “Birth Weight and Cognitive Ability in Childhood: a Systematic Review.” Psychological Bulletin 130 (6) (November): 989–1013. Vinikoor-Imler, L C, L C Messer, K R Evenson, and B A Laraia. 2011. “Neighborhood Conditions Are Associated with Maternal Health Behaviors and Pregnancy Outcomes.” Social Science & Medicine (1982) 73 (9) (November): 1302–1311.