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Year : 2016  |  Volume : 62  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 270-271

Maternal infection, malnutrition, and low birth weight

Department of Pediatrics, Safdarjung Hospital, New Delhi, India

Date of Web Publication20-Oct-2016

Correspondence Address:
M P Roy
Department of Pediatrics, Safdarjung Hospital, New Delhi
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0022-3859.191010

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How to cite this article:
Roy M P. Maternal infection, malnutrition, and low birth weight. J Postgrad Med 2016;62:270-1

How to cite this URL:
Roy M P. Maternal infection, malnutrition, and low birth weight. J Postgrad Med [serial online] 2016 [cited 2023 Jun 10];62:270-1. Available from:

The article by Borah on low birth weight (LBW) reemphasized the need of strengthening antenatal care for better delivery outcomes.[1] This is important as India alone is responsible for 40% of the LBW born in developing world.[2] Although the study took care of maternal anemia and weight gain as indicator for maternal nutrition, further discussion may be added on this important determinant of LBW, particularly in Indian context.

Apart from prematurity, intrauterine growth retardation (IUGR) may also result in LBW. This growth retardation has two strong predictors - maternal infection and low nutrient consumption. Infection not only reduces appetite and dietary intake but affects maternal absorption of nutrient as well. There may be metabolic stress, resulting in higher requirement of nutrients. On the other hand, maternal energy and protein intake, when compromised, can precipitate in IUGR.[3] An underweight mother has 30% higher risk of delivering a LBW baby than her well-nourished counterpart.[4] Fact, most of the fetal weight gain occurs during the last trimester. However, the influences of nutrients are not limited to the second or third trimester. Animal studies highlighted that inadequate diet around peri-implantation stage affect fetal growth to a crucial extent.[5] Thus, infection and malnutrition complement each other to sustain a vicious cycle in pregnancy, leading to poor obstetric outcomes including LBW. Therefore, all we need is a continuum of care during periconceptional period, pregnancy, and lactation periods to ensure the best outcome and newborn health.

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 :: References Top

Borah M, Agarwalla R. Maternal and socio-demographic determinants of low birth weight (LBW): A community-based study in a rural block of Assam. J Postgrad Med 2016;62:178-81.  Back to cited text no. 1
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WHO & UNICEF. Low Birth Weight: Country, Regional and Global Estimates. New York: UNICEF; 2004.  Back to cited text no. 2
Kramer MS. Balanced protein/energy supplementation in pregnancy (Cochrane review). Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2000;(2):CD000032.  Back to cited text no. 3
Dharmalingam A, Navaneetham K, Krishnakumar CS. Nutritional status of mothers and low birth weight in India. Matern Child Health J 2010;14:290-8.  Back to cited text no. 4
Nafee TM, Farrell WE, Carroll WD, Fryer AA, Ismail KM. Epigenetic control of fetal gene expression. BJOG 2008;115:158-68.  Back to cited text no. 5

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