BACKGROUND : Low birth weight continues to be a main cause of child morbidity and mortality. Low birth weight can cause complications in adult life, and is therefore a public health concern. In this study, we determined the maternal factors that contribute to low birth weight (LBW) deliveries in Tshwane District, South Africa.
METHODS : We conducted a case control study of 1073 randomly selected mothers who delivered babies in four hospitals in the district. We reviewed antenatal and maternity registers to obtain information about the mothers and their offspring. We fitted a multiple logistic regression to examine relationships between possible factors associated with LBW.
RESULTS : From the total sample of mothers (n = 1073), 77% (n = 824) were adult women, aged 20 to 35 years. Of the adult mothers, 38.54% (n = 412) delivered low birth weight (LBW) infants. The mean gestational age and weight of all infants at birth was 37.16 weeks (SD 2.92) and 2675.48 grams (SD 616.16) respectively. LBW was associated with prematurity, odds ratio (OR) 7.15, 95% confidence interval (CI) 5.18 to 9.89; premature rupture of membranes OR 7.33, 95% CI 2.43 to 22.12 and attending fewer than five antenatal care (ANC) visits OR 1.30, 95% CI 1.06 to 1.61. Male infants were less likely to be LBW, in this population.
CONCLUSION : Women who attended fewer than five ANC visits were predisposed to give birth to low birth weight babies. Mothers should be encouraged to attend ANC visits to detect adverse events like premature rupture of membranes and premature labour timeously.