Ethiopian Journal of Health Sciences

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Maternal Height as an Independent Risk Factor for Neonatal Size among Adolescent Bengalees in Kolkata, India

S Bisai


BACKGROUND: Low Birth Weight is a major public health problem in developing countries. The causes of LBW are multifactorial including complication during pregnancy, genetic, environmental, social-cultural, demographic and nutritional variables. Comparison of anthropometric risk factors for neonatal size of adolescent mothers are lacking from West Bengal. Therefore, this study was undertaken to identify maternal anthropometric characteristics, which most strongly influence neonate weight and length among Bengalee mothers.
METHODS: A hospital based cross-sectional study was undertaken during 2004 in a Government general hospital in South Kolkata, India. A total of 76 adolescent (age<20years) pregnant women were enrolled from obstetric ward who were admitted for delivery. Due to 4 perinatal deaths; a total of 72 adolescent mother- baby pairs were included in this analysis. Anthropometric measurements were undertaken immediately after delivery following stabilization as well maternal body mass index (BMI) was calculated using standard formula. RESULTS: The prevalence of low birth weight (LBW) in the present study was 52.8%. The results revealed that 30.6% of mothers were undernourished (BMI<19.8 kg/m2). It was noted that about 64% of undernourished mothers delivered LBW baby. Linear regression analyses of neonatal weight and length as dependent variables revealed that in both cases, maternal height had the most significant impact. It showed 12.9% (birth weight) and 16.1% (birth length) of variation. Moreover, the proportion of LBW was 75%, 52.3% and 25% among short (height .145 cm), average (146-155cm) and tall (>155cm) mothers (x2=6.855, p<0.01), respectively. Short mothers had 2.74 and 9.0 fold greater risk of delivering LBW baby than average and tall mothers. In contrast, mean birth weight and length of baby was lower in short mother than their counterparts.
CONCLUSION: This study revealed that maternal height had the strongest significant impact on neonate size. This strong association could have serious health implications for Bengalee adolescent mothers. However, since this is a preliminary finding, it needs validation using a larger sample of adolescent mothers.
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