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1 In 7 Infants Worldwide Born With Low Birthweight, Study Shows; Authors Call For International Action To Address Causes Of Underweight Birth

CBS News: New report is “a wake-up call” on leading risk to newborn babies: low birthweight
“A startling new report by U.N. agencies and public health experts sheds light on one of the greatest threats to newborn babies worldwide: being born with low birthweight. The report, published [Wednesday] in the British medical journal The Lancet Global Health, says that 80% of the 2.5 million newborns who die worldwide every year are low birthweight — a terrible trend that researchers believe can be changed…” (Falk, 5/15).

CNN: 1 in 7 babies is born underweight, with dire consequences for their health, global study says
“…Researchers from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, UNICEF, and the World Health Organization analyzed data from government databases and surveys in 148 countries between 2000 and 2015. Globally, 20.5 million — 14.6% — babies born in 2015 had low birthweight, defined as less than 2,500 grams or about 5.5 pounds. That’s a slight decrease from the 22.9 million — 17.5% — babies with low birthweight in 2000, according to the findings, published Wednesday in the journal The Lancet Global Health…” (Bracho-Sanchez, 5/15).

The Telegraph: Countries face a “wake-up” call as 20 million babies are born underweight every year
“…High income countries — including the U.K. — have made virtually no progress. In North America, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand, low birthweight rates have remained constant, at an average of seven per 100 newborns. ‘For policymakers, I think the results of this research open eyes to the magnitude of the problem,’ said Dr. Mercedes De Onis, coordinator in the department of nutrition at the WHO. ‘Reducing low birthweight requires understanding of the underlying causes in any given country’…” (Newey, 5/15).

U.N. News: Countries must up their game to reduce low birth weights, warns U.N.-backed report
“…In 2012, WHO’s 195 member States committed to reduce its prevalence by 30 percent, by 2025. However, estimates found only a 1.2 percent decrease worldwide — from 22.9 million low birthweight live births in 2000 to 20.5 million in 2015 — indicating that if the rate did not pick up, the world would fall well short of the annual 2.7 percent reduction required to meet the 2012 target. … The study’s authors have called for international action to ensure that all babies are weighed at birth, to improve clinical care, and to promote public health inquiry into the causes of low birthweight, to reduce death and disability…” (5/15).

Additional coverage of the study is available from NPR and SciDev.Net.