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Low Birth Weight
Infants weighing less than 2500 grams at birth are defined to have low birth weight. This HCI indicator measures the proportion of infants born with low birth weights. Low birth weight may predict adverse health outcomes for infants, and may also be an indicator of maternal exposure to health risks (both physical and social), lack of health care access, and unhealthy behaviors. Infants with low birth weights have higher rates of cognitive development problems and neurological impairments, and may be at greater risk for cardiovascular disease and respiratory conditions over their lifetime. Low birth weight has also been linked to modifiable maternal behaviors, including nutrition, smoking, alcohol and substance abuse and to neighborhood characteristics. In addition to Health Systems and Public Safety, low birth weight impacts education, employment, and the economic health of a community. It is an “inverse” measure as the higher the proportion of infants born with low birth weights the greater the negative impact on neighborhood health.