Birth weight remains one of the most important measures we have of the health status of a population, and is a strong predictor of both neonatal mortality and morbidity. It reflects maternal nutritional status and fetal growth rates in the antenatal period. Although a large number of physiological and pathological variables can affect the growth rate, for most cases of growth-restricted fetuses a cause cannot be determined. Awareness of the physiological aspects of fetal growth is important in assessing whether the fetus is growing normally. This article is a review of recent findings and key historical material on factors influencing birth weight.
Birth weight remains one of the most important measures we have of the health status of a population, being a strong predictor of both mortality and morbidity, and reflecting nutritional status and growth rates. Yet, the estimation of the normal growth potential — and hence the definition of growth retardation — for a given individual has remained an elusive objective.
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