Low birthweight (LBW) is a major predictor of early neonatal mortality which disproportionately affects low-income countries. WHO recommends regional definitions for LBW to prevent misclassifications and ensure appropriate care of babies with LBW. We conducted this study to define a clinical cut-off for LBW, and to determine the predictors and adverse foetal outcomes of LBW babies in a rural sub-division in Cameroon.
We conducted a retrospective register analysis of 1787 singleton deliveries in two health facilities in the Northwest Region of Cameroon. Records with no birthweight or birthweight less than 1000 g, babies born before arrival, multiple deliveries and deliveries before 28 weeks gestation were excluded from this study. The 10th percentile of birthweights was computed to obtain a statistical cut-off value for the LBW. To assess the clinical significance of the newly defined cut-off value, we compared the prevalence of adverse foetal outcomes between LBW (birthweight <10th percentile) and heavier babies (birthweight ≥10th percentile) in our study population.
The 10th percentile of the birthweights was 2700 g. Preterm delivery was the lone predictor of LBW (aOR = 2.0, 95% CI = 1.3–3.1; p = 0.001). LBW babies were more likely to be stillborn (OR = 9.6; 95% CI = 4.2–21.6; p < 0.001) or asphyxiated at the 5th minute (OR = 2.0; 95% CI = 1.2–3.3; p = 0.006), compared with heavier babies. Also, 6.1% of babies who had a birthweight between 2500 and 2700 g were more likely to be stillborn compared to heavier babies.
This study suggests that the clinical cut-off for LBW in this rural community is 2700 g; with 6.1% of babies born with LBW probably receiving inadequate care as the traditional cut-off value of 2500 g proposed by WHO is still used to define LBW in our setting. Further studies are necessary to define a national cut-off value for harmonisation of LBW definitions in the country to prevent misclassifications and ensure appropriate neonatal care.
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- Low birthweight in rural Cameroon: an analysis of a cut-off value
Valirie Ndip Agbor
Joel Noutakdie Tochie
- BioMed Central
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