Child Health USA 2006
Photographs of children's faces

Health Status > Infants


In 2004, 1.5 percent of live births were infants of very low birth weight (less than 1,500 grams, or 3 pounds 4 ounces). This has slowly climbed from a rate of just over one percent in 1980.

Because the chance of survival increases as birth weight increases, very low birth weight infants have the lowest survival rates. Infants born at such low birth weights are approximately 100 times more likely to die in the first year of life than are infants of normal birth weight. Very low birth weight infants who survive are at a significantly increased risk of severe problems, including physical and visual difficulties, developmental delays, and cognitive impairment requiring increased levels of medical, educational, and parental care.

The overall rate of very low birth weight among non-Hispanic Black newborns (3.1 percent) is over two and a half times greater than the rate among most other racial and ethnic groups, including non-Hispanic Whites (1.2 percent), Hispanics (1.2 percent), and Asian/Pacific Islanders (1.1 percent). This difference is a major contributor to the disparity in infant mortality rates between non-Hispanic Black infants and infants of other racial/ethnic groups.


Back to top


Child Health USA 2006 is not copyrighted. Readers are free to duplicate and use all or part of the information contained on this page. Suggested Citation: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, Maternal and Child Health Bureau. Child Health USA 2006. Rockville, Maryland: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2006.