Survival and Physical Growth in Infancy and Early Childhood Study of Birth Weight and Gestational Age in a Guatemalan Indian Village
Mata Jiménez, Leonardo
Urrutia, Juan José
Kronmal, Richard A.
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Many factors contribute independently or jointly to the cause and pathogenesis of low birth weight. Attempts to identify these factors in a given population, however, are usually unsuccessful, and conclusions are equivocal. Among the variables related to fetal growth, socioeconomic status and size of the mother consistently show positive correlations. Thus, incidence of low birth weight. defined as less than 2,501 gm (5.5 Ib),' is lowest in the nations with the highest standard of living.' Although the United States is among the most developed nations, its incidence of low birth weight is higher than that of some European countries,' primarily because of the high incidence of low birth weight among its population groups of low socioeconomic class. The problem is more serious in developing nations. but it is extremely difficult to assess there because of inadequacy or lack of statistical data. Data on birth weight in these countries are usually derived from hospital records that, aside from their inaccuracy, are not representative of the rural and peripheral urban population. Nevertheless, even such limited reports from Latin America, Asia, and Africa"· indicate low birth weight rates ranging from 16% to 26%. The magnitude of the problem of low birth weight can only be assessed by prospective observation of communities that are representative of larger areas or regions. One such r: study has been underway since 1963 in a typical Guatemalan Indian vilJage, Santa Maria Cauque.When the with an infant mortality of about 90 per 1,000 livebirths. Deliveries take place at home according .to tradition and custom. Breast feeding is' begun shortly altei birth; and the total lactation ::period is: one. to four' years. Chronic. protein-calorie malnutrition and' a: high rate of infection are prevalentin people of all ages
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