Determinants of low birth weight in India: An investigation from the National Family Health Survey

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Article (peer-reviewed)

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Objective: This study aimed to estimate the change in prevalence of low birth weight (LBW) over the last decade in India and to identify its associated factors—biological, demographic, socio‐economic, and programmatic. Methods: We used the data from the National Family Health Survey of 2005‐2006 (NFHS‐3) and 2015‐2016 (NFHS‐4). The sample of this study included 11 300 children from NFHS‐3 and 99 894 from NFHS‐4 data; all these children were the last full‐term singleton live‐births, born within the last 3 years prior to the survey. Results: In India, the prevalence of LBW has significantly declined from 20.4% (95%CI 19.4‐21.4) to 16.4% (95% CI 16.1‐16.8) in the last decade. The prevalence of LBW remained high in girl children (OR = 1.2, 95% CI 1.2‐1.3; P < .001), whose mothers were adolescent (OR = 1.2, 95% CI 1.1‐1.3; P < .001), and were stunted (OR = 1.3, 95% CI 1.3‐1.3; P < .001). Prevalence of LBW declined among second or higher birth order child (OR = 0.8, 95% CI 0.8‐0.9; P < .001), whose mothers educated up to secondary level and above (OR = 0.6 to 0.8), belonged to rich wealth quintiles (OR = 0.9 to 0.8), were from rural area (OR = 0.9, 95% CI 0.9‐1.0; P < .001), received better nutrition and adequate antenatal care (OR = 0.8, 95% CI 0.8‐0.8; P < .001), and were from eastern, northeastern, and southern regions of India (OR = 0.9 to 0.5). Conclusion: Although the prevalence of LBW in India has declined over the past decade, the extent of the decline is modest. In the coming years, health programs in India need to gear up with greater convergence between maternal health services and maternal nutrition to reduce LBW.