Change Indicator

Low birth-weight infants in Maine

Low birth-weight infants

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Why This Indicator Matters

Babies born with low-birth weight are more likely than babies of normal weight to have health problems and require specialized medical care in the neonatal intensive care unit. Low-birth weight is typically caused by premature birth and fetal growth restriction, both of which are influenced by a mother's health and genetics. The most important things an expectant mother can do to prevent low birth weight are to seek prenatal care, take prenatal vitamins, stop smoking, and stop drinking alcohol and using drugs. For more info, see National Institute of Child Health: Promoting a Healthy Pregnancy

Nationally, in 2021 was 8.5% of births were under 5.5 pounds. March of Dimes. In 2021, Maine's rate was better than the national average at 7.3% though Maine's rate increased in 2022. 

What the data shows

Since 1998 the percent of low-birth weight babies in Maine has generally been rising. It was 5.8% in 1998, compared to 6.9% - 7.5% between 2013-2021. It was 8.2% statewide in 2022.

In 2022, four counties had rates of low-birth weight babies at or above 10%. These were Androscoggin, 11.6%., Washington, 11.1%, Knox, 10.1% and Oxford, 10.0%. By contrast, Hancock County had a rate of 5.6%, Aroostook was 6.4% and Penobscot was 6.6%.

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Definition and Source



The number and percent of live births in which the newborn weighed less than 2500 grams (5.5 pounds). The numerator is the number of births under 5.5 pounds and the denominator is the number of live births.


NA=Not available
LN= Low Numbers and data is suppressed.

Last Updated

December 2023