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Long Term Impact for Baby Born With Low Birth Weight

It's still NICU Awareness Month and one of the questions I get frequently from NICU moms is "What's the long term effect for my child because they were born low birthweight?"

Before we dive into that question, let's answer this question.

Does low birth weight take into account gestational age?

Low birthweight only refers to the weight itself regardless of gestational age.

  • Low birthweight refers to a newborn's weight that is less than 2500 grams (5 pounds 8 ounces).

  • Very low birthweight refers to a newborn's weight that is less than 1500 grams (3 pounds 5 ounces).

  • Extremely low birthweight refers to a newborn's weight that is less than 1000 grams (2 pounds 3 ounces).

Small for gestational age refers to the weight of the baby based on baby's gestational age.

A baby can be both low birth weight and small for gestational age or can be just low birth weight and being the expected size for their gestational age.

So, back to the original question.

What health complications are babies born with low birth weight at risk for?

Here's what's important to take away from this list:

This is not a predictive list.

This is not a comprehensive list.

This is not a crystal ball for what WILL happen to your child.


The risk factors for babies born with low birth weight depend on a variety of factors including


  • how small they were at birth (very low & extremely low birth weight babies have added risk factors)

  • maternal health during pregnancy

  • gestational age when baby was born

  • whether they spent time in the NICU

  • how long they were in the NICU

  • other health complications they had before, during or after birth

  • genetics

  • who they are as an individual


This is why it's so important to take statistics with a grain of salt and keep laser focus on your child and what your child's body is telling you.


Ensure you have a pediatric team that trusts your instincts as a parent.


Remember that your baby's birth weight (& any complications that may arise from it) does not & will not define your ability to be a good parent.

Had a baby with low birth weight? Here are two ways I can help:

1) There are many factors that increase the risk of having a low birth weight baby - the health of your nervous system being one of them. To learn how to support your body to reduce your risk of low birth weight baby in your next pregnancy, schedule your Path to Baby Strategy Call

2) If you're done growing your family, and are constantly vigilant and worried about your child's ongoing medical complications, join us in Healing Hearts to heal your trauma while you are caring for a child with complex medical needs.

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