Data shows one in 15 newborns ‘under weight’
One-in-15 babies in West Norfolk are born underweight, new figures show.
Data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) reveals that in the borough of West Norfolk 104 newborns weighed under 5.5lbs, considered the minimum healthy weight, in 2017.
That’s 6.8 per cent of the births in the borough over the year.
The NHS says maternity services can identify mothers at risk of having underweight babies, and refer them for help and support.
Mothers suffering from high blood pressure, or smoking or drinking alcohol during pregnancy, are more likely to have babies weighing 5.5lbs.
Across England and Wales, seven per cent of babies were underweight at birth in 2017, 47,228 in total. That is a drop of three per cent compared with the number in 2016.
In West Norfolk, there were 1,523 births in 2017 – 748 boys and 775 girls. The percentage figure compared to 6.7 per cent for Norfolk as a whole.
There were 66 newborns for every 1,000 women aged 15 to 44 in the area, compared with an average of 61 in England and Wales.
In Walsall, in the West Midlands, 11.2 per cent of babies were underweight, the highest rate in England and Wales.
The Vale of White Horse, in Oxfordshire, registered the lowest, with only 3.6 per cent of babies under 5.5lbs.
An NHS spokesman said: “Effective maternity services commissioned by Clinical Commissioning Groups can identify and address such issues within pregnancy, either directly or by referral.
“Even where the relevant service is not commissioned by a CCG, for example, smoking cessation, the identification and referral of women with a need for such support falls within the role of maternity services.
“If the number of full-term live births with a low birth weight within an area is disproportionately high, CCGs should consider the reasons for this and what actions they should take to address it.”
The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health says underweight babies are more likely to develop some health conditions, such as heart disease or diabetes, in adulthood.
Gergely Toldi, from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said: “Babies born with a low birth weight have an increased risk for developing certain diseases in adulthood, such as heart disease, chronic kidney disease and diabetes.”