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Low-Weight Births - Buncombe Total (with comparisons)


Data Description & Source

Description: These percentages are based on 5-year aggregates, with the year shown indicating the last year of the 5-year period. The value shown indicates the % of live births with infants weighing less than 2500 grams. 2500 grams = 5.5 pounds.

Source: Available from North Carolina State Center for Health Statistics (NC SCHS), County Health Data Book (by year). Look in "Pregnancy and Live Births" section and find report called, "Low and Very Low Weight Births by Race" at

Notes: The "Pregnancy and Birth" reports for years prior to 2010 do not present data by race and ethnicity the same way. The data prior to 2010 appears as "white" and "minority" and is not comparable to more recent years. Only county and state totals (not by race or ethnicity) are included for years prior to 2010.

To view comparisons, click indicator title then "Toggle Comparison" button.

Story Behind the Curve

There are two main reasons why a baby may be born with low birthweight:

  1. Premature birth. This is birth before 37 weeks of pregnancy. About 7 of 10 low-birthweight babies are premature.
  2. Fetal growth restriction (also called growth-restricted, small for gestational age and small for date). This means a baby doesn't gain the weight she should before birth. Growth-restricted babies may have low birthweight simply because their parents are small. Others may have low birthweight because something slowed or stopped their growth in the womb. About 1 in 10 babies (10 percent) are growth-restricted.

Risk factors for having a low-birthweight baby:

  • Preterm labor or labor before 37 weeks of pregnancy.
  • Chronic health conditions including high blood pressure and diabetes among others.
  • Problems with the placenta
  • Smoking, drinking alcohol, using street drugs and abusing prescription drugs. Pregnant women who smoke are nearly twice as likely to have a low-birthweight baby than women who don’t smoke.
  • Social determinants such as low education level, low income or being unemployed
  • Age, being younger than 17 or older than 35
  • Race/ethnicity is a risk factor, too. In the United States, black women are more likely than others to have a low-birthweight baby

Low birthweight is the strongest predictor of infant mortality and is associated with diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and obesity later in life.

For more information visit the March of Dimes.

What Works

Strategies to reduce low birth weight births:

  • Improving preconception health
  • Improve fertility planning to reduce unwanted pregnancies and increase birth spacing at least 18 months
  • Improving the health behaviors of pregnant women, including smoking cessation, reducing or quitting drug use, and appropriate weight gain
  • Screening pregnant women for certain medical conditions, such as infections or physical abnormalities

Action Plan

This is an additional indicator that the group has identified to monitor. Please see the infant mortality rate indicator for a detailed action plan.

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