U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration

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Birth Weight

Low Birth Weight. Disorders related to short gestation and low birth weight are the second leading cause of neonatal mortality in the United States. In 2007, 122,299 babies born to residents of U.S. cities with populations over 100,000 were low birth weight (weighing less than 2,500 grams, or 5 pounds 8 ounces); this represents 8.7 percent of infants in U.S. cities. The rate of low birth weight among urban infants was 6 percent higher than the rate nationwide (8.2 percent). Although this has been a persistent disparity, the gap has decreased somewhat
since 1990.

Very Low Birth Weight. Infants born very low birth weight (less than 1,500 grams, or 3 pounds 4 ounces) are at highest risk for poor health outcomes. In 2007, 1.6 percent of live births in cities with populations over 100,000 were very low birth weight. This exceeded the rate of very low birth weight nationwide (1.5 percent) by 7 percent.

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