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Indicator 8 : Low birth weight

Goal: All children will be healthy and start school ready to learn. The early childhood years birth to age five are a critical period of growth and development. Learning begins with a healthy, nurturing start in life. This goal reflects the growing scientific understanding that a healthy pregnancy and early nurturing contribute to a child's brain development and later success in school.

Rationale: Low birth weight is often associated with health and development problems.

Low birth weight babies, total (percent)

Year
19905.1%
19915.3%
19925.2%
19935.5%
19945.7%
19955.9%
19965.8%
19975.9%
19985.8%
19996.1%
20006.1%
graph
Local data

Data source: Minnesota Department of Health

Low birth weight babies, American Indian (percent)

Year
19906.1%
19916.1%
19926.3%
19937.7%
19946.6%
19957.8%
19966.3%
19977.1%
19985.4%
19997.1%
20007.3%
graph

Data source: Minnesota Department of Health

Low birth weight babies, Asian or Pacific Islander (percent)

Year
19906.2%
19916.4%
19925.8%
19937.2%
19947.3%
19956.6%
19966.6%
19976.6%
19986.9%
19998.1%
20006.5%
graph

Data source: Minnesota Department of Health

Low birth weight babies, Black/ African American (percent)

Year
199013.7%
199114.6%
199211.6%
199311.9%
199412.6%
199512.2%
199612%
199711.2%
199811.1%
199911.1%
200011.1%
graph

Data source: Minnesota Department of Health

Low birth weight babies, Hispanic (percent)

Year
19905.9%
19916.3%
19925.3%
19935.5%
19946.4%
19956.7%
19966%
19976.7%
19985.8%
19996%
20005.8%
graph

Data source: Minnesota Department of Health

Low birth weight babies, White (percent)

Year
19904.6%
19914.9%
19924.9%
19935.1%
19945.2%
19955.5%
19965.4%
19975.5%
19985.4%
19995.6%
20005.7%
graph

Data source: Minnesota Department of Health

About this indicator: The percentage of babies weighing less than 2,500 grams (or 5.5 pounds) at birth rose slightly during the past decade, from 5.1 in 1990 to 6.1 percent in 2000. The Minnesota Department of Health aims to decrease the frequency of low-weight births to no more than 3.5 percent of all births by 2004.

An increasing body of research shows that the period before birth is critical to growth and development. Low birth weight puts infants at higher risk for health problems, developmental delays and increased need of specialized medical, social, educational and other services. Babies are at higher risk of low birth weight if the mother smokes, is younger than 20 or older than 35, has less than 12 years of education, does not receive prenatal care, has poor nutrition or has a medical condition associated with low birth weight. Most cases of low birth weight are premature births (before 37 weeks).

Since 1990, the frequency of low-weight births has increased in the Asian/Pacific Islander, White and American Indian populations. It has changed very little among Hispanics and has decreased in the Black/African American population, from 13.7 percent in 1990 to 11.1 percent in 2000.

For comparison: Minnesota has fewer children with low birth weight than the national average. Nationwide, 7.6 percent of all babies had low birth weight in 2000, an increase from 7.0 percent in 1990. Nationally 6.5 percent of White babies, but 13.0 percent of Black/African American babies, had low birth weight.

Things to think about: The causes of low birth weight are not fully understood but experts believe that neighborhood-based care that is culturally sensitive and rooted in community values is a key factor in improving prenatal care.

Technical notes: The low birth weight figures reflect only those births for which a birth weight is reported. It may exclude some births, such as infants born at home. The figure includes multiple births, which are more likely to be of low birth weight than single births. Multiple births in Minnesota increased between 1980 and 1998. County data are provided in three year averages.

Sources:

  • Minnesota Department of Health, Center for Health Statistics, www.health.state.mn.us
  • Minnesota Department of Health, Healthy Minnesotans: Minnesota Public Health Goals for 2004, www.health.state.mn.us
  • U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics, www.cdc.gov/nchs

Related data trends:

  • Low birth weight babies, total
  • Related indicators:

    Other related indicators:

    • Life expectancy at birth by gender, race and ethnicity (Minnesota Planning, State Demographic Center, www.mnplan.state.mn.us)
    • Children placed in early childhood special education (Minnesota Department of Children, Families & Learning, http://cfl.state.mn.us)
    • Pregnant women receiving prenatal care during the first trimester (Minnesota Department of Health, www.health.state.mn.us)
    • Children born with fetal alcohol syndrome (Minnesota Department of Health, www.health.state.mn.us)

    Retrieve county data for: Low birth weight babies, total (percent)

    Create Map: Low birth weight babies, total (percent)

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Technical problems? Contact: demography.helpline@state.mn.us