Measurement issues of low birth weight in India

  • Dharmendra Kumar Dubey Department of National Drug Dependence Treatment Center and Psychiatry, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, India
  • Dilip C. Nath Vice-chancellor, Assam University, Silcher, Assam, India
Keywords: Birth weight, Birth, Body height, Immediate recall, Health smart card


Background & Aim: Low birth weight (LBW) is a strong predictor of an individual baby's survival. LBW is defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as weight at birth of less than 2500 g.he current study aimed to study the pattern of the reporting system of birth weight in India and examine the heaping at certain digits, assess the agreement between actual birth weight and birth weight reported based on recall, and identify key determinants of birth weight reporting in India. Methods & Materials: The National Family Health Survey (NFHS-3) data was used for the present study. The sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value and negative predictive value were calculated to assess the magnitude of the misclassification bias. In addition, univariate and multivariable analyses were also analyzed. Chi-square test was used to detect the associations and Cohen's kappa statistic was used for agreement between categories of birth weights and birth sizes.Results: Mothers’ recalled assessment of baby’s size as small or normal were in agreement with the categories of birth weight as LBW or normal weight (K = 0.46, P < 0.050). The value of Kappa statistic indicated a moderate agreement between recalled birth size and recorded birth weight.Conclusion: Due to this poor reporting system prevalen in the country, the actual prevalence of LBW can get affected. Method of reporting can also affect the actual scenario of the LBW due to hypothetical or memory recall base birth size.


Rekha C, Whelan RM, Reddy P, Reddy PS. Evaluation of adjustment methods used to determine prevalence of low birth- eight babies at a rural hospital in Andhra Pradesh, India. Indian J Public Health 2013; 57(3): 177-80.

Channon AA. Can mothers judge the size of their newborn? ssessing the determinants of a mother's perception of a baby's size at birth. J Biosoc Sci 2011; 43(5): 555-73.

Channon AA, Padmadas SS, McDonald JW. Measuring birth weight in developing countries: Does the method of reporting in retrospective surveys matter? Matern Child Health J 2011; 15(1): 12-8.

United Nations. Resolutions and decisions adopted by the general assembly during its twenty-sixth special session. New York, NY: United Nations Publications; 2002.

Boerma JT, Weinstein KI, Rutstein SO, Sommerfelt AE. Data on irth weight in developing countries: Can surveys help? Bull World Health Organ 1996; 74(2): 209-16.

Ministry of Health and Family Welfare Government of India. National family health survey (NFHS-3). Mumbai, India: International Institute for Population Sciences; 2007.

Sundaram KR, Dwivedi SN, Sreenivas V. Medical statistics: Principles and practice. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & ilkins; 2014.

Gayle HD, Yip R, Frank MJ, Nieburg P, Binkin NJ. Validation of maternally reported birth weights among 46,637 Tennessee WIC program participants. Public Health Rep 1988; 103(2): 143-7.

Shryock HS. The methods and materials of demography. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Academic Press; 2004.

Blanc AK, Wardlaw T. Monitoring low birth weight: An evaluation of international estimates and an updated estimation procedure. Bull World Health Organ 2005; 83(3): 178-85.

Bat-Erdene U, Metcalfe A, McDonald SW, Tough SC. Validation of Canadian mothers' recall of events in labour and delivery with electronic health records. BMC Pregnancy Childbirth 2013; 13(Suppl 1): S3.

Islam MM. Can maternal recalled birth size be used as a proxy measure of birth weight? An evaluation based on a population health survey in Oman. Matern Child Health J 2014; 18(6): 1462-70.

Al Riyami A, Afifi M, Al Kharusi H, Morsi M. National health survey 2000. Principal report. Muscat, Oman: Ministry of Health; 2000.

Eggleston E, Tsui AO, Fortney J. Assessing survey measures of infant birth weight and birth size in Ecuador. J Biosoc Sci 2000; 32(3): 373-82.

Robles A, Goldman N. Can accurate data on birthweight be obtained from health interview surveys? Int J Epidemiol 1999; 28(5): 925-31.

Subramanyam MA, Ackerson LK, Subramanian SV. Patterning in birthweight in India: Analysis of maternal recall and health card data. PLoS One 2010; 5(7): e11424.

How to Cite
Dubey DK, Nath DC. Measurement issues of low birth weight in India. jbe. 3(2):31-0.
Original Article(s)