Nutrition

Feto-maternal nutrition and low birth weight

WHO/NHD

The 30 million low-birth-weight babies born annually (23.8% of all births) often face severe short- and long-term health consequences. Low birth weight is a major determinant of mortality, morbidity and disability in infancy and childhood and also has a long-term impact on health outcomes in adult life. The consequences of poor nutritional status and inadequate nutritional intake for women during pregnancy not only directly affects women’s health status, but may also have a negative impact on birth weight and early development.

Low birth weight also results in substantial costs to the health sector and imposes a significant burden on society as a whole. Whereas the global prevalence of such births is slowly dropping, it is as high as 30% in many developing countries. To support countries in dealing with this major public health challenge, WHO is elaborating a global strategy for promoting optimal fetal development for presentation to the governing bodies in 2005.

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