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Extremely low birth weight babies are by definition babies weighing under 1,500 grams or 3lbs, 4oz. As stated by Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), “The primary cause of very low birthweight is preterm birth (born before 37 weeks gestation).” (2018). A great number of premature births and subsequently low birth weight babies are due to limited access to prenatal care. Because extremely low birth weight babies are in need of a higher level of care after delivery, health care costs are substantially greater for them than babies born at full term. According to CHOP, “Nearly all very low birthweight babies need specialized care in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) until they can gain weight and are well enough to go home.” (2018). They are also at greater risk for chronic health conditions that can last a lifetime which also increases the cost of health care.
According to CHOP, “African-American babies are twice as likely to have very low birthweight than white babies.” (2018). Another risk factor listed was a lack of prenatal care which may be due to the lack of access to health care. March of Dimes states, “Being a teen mother (especially younger than 15) or being older than 35 makes you more likely than other women to have a low-birthweight baby.” (2018). Education and prenatal care are the two greatest prevention measures for premature and low birthweight babies.