A birthweight below 2500 grammes is considered to be low. Low birthweight can be due to the baby being born early (prematurity) or the baby can be growth retarded (small for the period it has been in the womb).
Causes and associations include illnesses in the mother, her smoking, her poverty and her malnutrition. Multiple pregnancies (twins etc.) also causes lower birthweights. The lower the birthweight, the higher the need for skilled medical help for the baby to survive.
The following problems can be caused by low birthweight:
Cerebral palsy where there is paralysis affecting use of arms, legs and muscles used in speech
Brain damage can also impair learning ability (mental retardation) or cause fits (epilepsy) or deafness.
Eye problems can cause blindness.
Low birth weight caused 2.22% of all deaths worldwide in 2002, an average of 204 deaths per million people per year.