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VERY LOW BIRTH WEIGHT

In 2002, the rate of very low birth weight (less than 1500 grams or 3 pounds 4 ounces) newborns was 1.5 percent of live births, a rate that has been relatively stable since 1997.

Because chance for survival increases as birth weight increases, infants born at a very low birth weight have the lowest survival rates. Infants born at such low birth weights are approximately 100 times more likely to die by age one 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 is 2-1/2 times greater than that among non-Hispanic Whites and is twice the rate of the population as a whole. This disparity is a major contributor to the disparity in infant mortality rates between non-Hispanic Black and non-Hispanic White infants.

Graph: Very Low Birth Weight Among Infants[d]