Health Status > Infants
VERY LOW BIRTH WEIGHT
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.