African-American Studies Nursing

Nursing: The Health Assessment of Infants

Low Birth Weight and Prematurity

An infant is classified low birth weight when at birth the weight is less than 2,500 kilograms or 5 lbs. Research has shown where it could be a sequel of prematurity; maternal biological factors or a combination of both. Prematurity occurs before 37th week gestation. Predisposing factors are socio-economic conditions; poor nutrition; younger aged pregnant women; older reproductive years’ pregnancies; environmental pollutants; illicit drug abuse; hypertension and heart disease in the infant (Jarvis, 2012).

Black women have a higher incidence rate of 15%-18% more preterm/low birth weight infants than whites. Culturally, the pregnancy interval has been related to both incidences of prematurity and low birth weight. Women who have less access to quality prenatal care seem more vulnerable to low birth weight and preterm births (Jarvis, 2012).

Impact of low birth weight and prematurity on family and community

Low birth weight is closely related to infant mortality, as well as morbidity. Due to inadequate lung development infants tend to develop respiratory distress syndrome which is a hyaline cartilage membrane dysfunction. As such, they require more supervision and intense medical intervention. Families would have to correlate their activities to render care especially, during the initial stages after discharge from hospital. Form a societal perspective if the mother is uninsured it poses higher medical costs through Medicaid coverage (Engel,, 2006).

Support Services and Systems

Services specifically catering for premature and low birth weight infants are not always adequate within community settings. Essentially, this is an African American health predisposition. Many of these mothers are uninsured or underinsured. Premature and low birth weight interventions require specialist care. Medicaid does not cover many specialists’ services and most employer subscription insurance plans have to authorize care. Hence, it could be concluded that there is insufficient accessible health care for premature and low birth weight infants in the socicety(Simhan & Caritis, 2007).



Engel, M. Olshan, A. Siega-Riz, A. Savitz, D., & Chanock, S. (2006). Polymorphisms in folate

metabolizing genes and risk for spontaneous preterm and small-for-gestational age birth”

American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology 195 (5): 1231.e1–11

Jarvis, C. (2012). Physical Examination & Health Assessment (6th ed.). St. Louis, MO:


Simhan, H., & Caritis, S. (2007). Prevention of Preterm Delivery. New England Journal of

               Medicine 357 (5), 477–487