Issues for Professionals

Low Birth Weight Issues for Professionals

In May 2007, the Alberta Perinatal Health Program hosted the 'Healthy Mothers - Healthy Babies: How to Prevent Low Birth Weight' conference. A panel of experts attending the conference developed a consensus statement containing 22 recommendations as to how to address the issue of low birth weight.

Health care professionals have an important role to play in the prevention of low birth weight. Many prevention strategies address lifestyle choices both prior to and during pregnancy. Health care professionals can advocate for healthy lifestyle choices and changes including preconception counselling about:

  • smoking reduction or cessation
  • stress reduction
  • healthy nutrition and weight
  • healthy workplace environment
  • drug and alcohol use
  • domestic violence


Preterm birth is a major cause of low birth weight. Health care professionals must educate women and their partners about the signs and symptoms of preterm labour and what to do if it happens to them. Prenatal classes provide an opportunity to share this information with women and their partners.

Referral to early prenatal classes increases the likelihood that information is received in a timely manner.


Health care professionals can make referrals to community programs including:

  • Canadian Prenatal Nutrition Program
  • Healthy Babies/ Healthy Children
  • Public Health Unit
  • Prenatal Classes

Health care professionals should counsel women and their partners about the risks/consequences of assistive reproductive technologies that result in higher order multiple gestations. Although multiple births represent only 2% of all Canadian births they account for 16% of infants born with low birth weight.


Did you know that...

  • ~ half of twins are born preterm and/or low birth weight
  • over 90% of triplets and higher order multiples (quadruplets/quintuplets) are born preterm and/or low birth weight
  • multiple births are responsible for the growing segment of infants born preterm

Finally, health care professionals should be aware of the resources available in their community and attempt to provide information that is culturally and linguistically appropriate.


Low birth weight is costly to the health care system.
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