Factors associated with low birth weight among babies born at Oshakati intermediate hospital, Oshana region, Namibia

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University of Namibia
Low Birth Weight (LBW) is a preventable public health concern. By 2015, the global prevalence of LBW was estimated at 15% - 20% with Sub Saharan Africa standing at 13%. The 2013 Namibia Demographic Health Survey recorded a 13% LBW prevalence, with Oshana region leading by 16%. LBW is coupled with serious health problems e.g., impaired mental development and increased risk of morbidity and mortality. We investigated maternal and sociodemographic factors associated with LBW new-borns in Intermediate Hospital Oshakati, to develop recommendations aimed at reducing LBW. We conducted an unmatched 1:2 case-control study between September and November 2020. Cases were mothers who delivered singleton full term babies weighing less than 2500g. Controls were mothers who delivered singleton full term babies weighing 2500g or more. An interviewer administered structured questionnaire was used for data collection. We reviewed maternal records for clinical information. We used multivariable logistic regression to identify risk factors of LBW and reported odd ratios with 95% Confidence Intervals (CI). A total of 103 cases and 206 controls were interviewed. The mean age of mothers was 27.13 ±7.23 years and the mean birth weight of babies was 2875.13±570.88g. Independent risk factors for delivering LBW new-borns were gestation age <38 weeks (aOR 4.1, 95%-CI 1.86-9.35); history of LBW or prematurity (aOR 2.4, 95%-CI 1.12-5.43) as well as rural residence (aOR 2.5, 95%-CI 1.44 – 4.57). LBW is more associated with some socio demographic and obstetric factors than socio-economic and nutritional factors. Expecting mothers with known risk factors (e.g., history of prematurity or LBW) need close monitoring during Ante Natal Care (ANC). Maternal health services in rural areas needs strengthening in terms of skilled personnel, equipment, and awareness creation at community level.
A thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements of the Degree of Master of Science (Applied field epidemiology and laboratory management)
Low birth weight, Public health, Mortality