Influence of maternal factors on birth weight outcomes of newborns in Uganda
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According to the United States Department of health and human services, infants born with low weight are more than 100 times more likely to die in the first year of life than are infants of normal birth weight. Neonatal death among infants weighing 1500–2500 grams is 20 times higher than among infants of normal weight.The relationship between birth weight and neonatal mortality makes it of significant importance to discover the risk factors that would affect birth weight.The study used the 2016 Uganda Demographic and Health Survey data was used to examine the outcome of birth weight. Generalized structural equation modeling was used to measure the direct and indirect relationships.Belonging to the rich wealth index reduced odds of giving birth to babies with low birth weight compared to the poor wealth index (OR=0.7, p=0.001). Occupation for the categories of professional and sales was found to have a statistically significant relationship with birth weight (OR=0.5, p=0.006 andOR=0.6, p=0.003). Mothers employed in professional and sales work had reduced odds of having babies with low birth weight compared to mothers who were not working. Antenatal care was also found to have a statistically significant relationship with birth weight (OR=0.7, p=0.001). A mother who had at least 4 antenatal visits had reduced odds of having a baby with low birth weight. Finally, the analysis also revealed that level of education for the categoryof higher education and occupation for the categories of sales and services were indirect predictors of birth weight through antenatal care (p=0.016, p=0.012 and p=0.039 respectively). A mother who attained a higher level of education had reduced odds of having a baby with low birth weight compared to a mother who had no education (OR=0.9). Mothers who were engaged in sales and services work had reduced odds of having babies with low birth weight compared to mothers who were not working (OR=0.9 and OR=0.9). Based on the findings of this study, more antenatal care centers need to be established especially in rural areas and advocacy for prenatal care needs to be intensified to enroll all expectant mothers in prenatal care. Finally,interventions targeted on empowering mothers economically so as to mitigate the effect of socioeconomic characteristics on birth weight.