Low birth weight is a term used to describe babies who are born weighing less than 5 pounds 8 ounces. More than 8 percent of all newborn babies in the U.S. have low birth weight, and the number of these very small babies born in the U.S. is increasing.
A baby with low birth weight may be at increased risk for complications. The baby’s tiny body is not as strong, and he or she may have a harder time eating, gaining weight and fighting infection. Because they have so little body fat, low birth weight babies often have difficulty staying warm in normal temperatures.
In general, the lower the birth weight, the greater the risk for complications:
Nearly all low birth weight babies need specialized care until they gain weight and are well enough to go home.
SPECIAL ATTENTION FOR LITTLE BABIES. The nursery at Fauquier Hospital’s Family Birthing Center is equipped with special beds called “isolettes” that provide a controlled, draft-free environment in which low birth weight babies grow most effectively. The Birthing Center has trained staff, including neonatal nurse-practitioners, who have the expertise necessary to support infants from birth through discharge.
Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is the sudden unexplained death of an infant younger than age one. The most recent recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics offer the following guidelines to parents to help prevent SIDS:
You should also never smoke during pregnancy or around your newborn. New parents are encouraged to share these recommendations with other child-care providers, such as grandparents and babysitters. Talk with your doctor for more information about SIDS.
Free souvenir for newborns. Babies born at the O’Shaughnessy Family Birthing Center leave with special onesies from the Rappahannock-Rapidan Community Services Board through a grant from the March of Dimes. The front says “This Side Up” as a reminder to parents to always lay infants on their backs. For a free tour of the birthing center, call 540-316-5000.