Skip to main content

Incidence Rate and Risk Factors for Low Birth Weight (LBW) Babies in Three Major Hospitals in Riyadh City, 1997.


Low birth weight (LBW) is a primary predictor of infant mortality and morbidity. LBW babies were defined as babies born with birth weight less than 2500 grams. LBW can be a result of preterm delivery or intrauterine growth retardation or both. The incidence rate of LBW varies between geographical areas and different sectors of the population. These babies may require a great deal of immediate and later care as they are at high risk for various medical problems. Care of these infants can be very costly. Learning the extent of the problem in each country is important for better health care planning. Our study was to find the incidence rates and the antenatal risk factors for LBW babies in three governmental hospitals (Maternity and Children's hospital MCH of Riyadh Medical Complex RMC, Al-Yamamah hospital and Riyadh Army Forces Hospital RAFH) in Riyadh city from April 10 to May 3, 1997.


We conducted a case control study using a standardized questionnaire requesting information about antenatal risk factors for LBW. A case mother was defined as a woman who delivered a LBW in one of three hospitals during the study period. Control mothers were randomly selected from the same postnatal ward who had delivered babies weighing 2500 to 4000 grams. Incidence rates were calculated from the recorded birth weights from the three hospitals during the study period and from hospital reports for annual rates.


We found the overall incidence rates to be 10.7% (MCH), 7.5% (Al-Yamamah) and 8.1% (RAFH). Body Mass Index (BMI) less than 22, nulliparity, prematurity, absence of ANC, previous delivery of LBW or preterm baby, short birth spacing, loss of the last child, advice from mothers of the pregnant women and hubble bubble smoked by the husbands were found to be significant risk factors for LBW deliveries in this study.


LBW is a major health problem. The incidence rates of LBW in our study were within the range of the developed countries. Health authorities need to initiate programs to encourage pregnant mothers to attend the ANC clinics in order to educate them about the LBW risk factors and to identify some of these factors and prevented when possible.