Best Practices

Low Birth Weight

A baby born at a low birth weight is one who weighs less than 2,500 grams (5 lb. 8 oz. or less).  Low birth weight contributes to many long-term health and behavioral risks, including diabetes and obesity, and is associated with higher rates of infant death.


The top two contributors to low birth weight in Colorado are not gaining enough maternal weight and smoking during pregnancy.

Colorado has experienced a 25 percent decrease in the number of pregnant women who smoke over the past decade, which is a great success.  Some of this success may be due to environmental changes, including the Colorado Clean Indoor legislation and tax increases on cigarettes and tobacco products.

However, one in eight low weight births can be attributed to inadequate weight during pregnancy, a number that has remained relatively unchanged over the past decade.

Colorado has one of the highest low birthweight rates in the nation.  In 2011, 9.7 percent of babies were born at a low birth weight in Colorado (Birth Certificate Data, 2011).  The Healthy People 2020 goal for the nation is 7.8 percent.

Background Documents

Webinar: Risk Factors for Low Birth Weight in Colorado - aired September 2011



 Public Health Best Practices that Affect Low Birth Weight - A Literature Review (March 2009)

Promising Practice

Reducing Low Birthweight by Resolving Risks:  Results from Colorado's Prenatal Plus Program - American Journal of Public Health, November 2005, Vol. 95, No. 11, pp. 1952-1956



Related Colorado Programs

Healthy Baby Campaign

Prenatal Plus

Women, Infants and Children (WIC)

Related Topics

Healthy Weight Gain during Pregnancy

Prenatal Tobacco Cessation

Preconception Health


Colorado Maternal and Child Health Data

National Vital Statistics Reports (CDC), Births: Final Data for 2010