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Low birth-weight babies by race and ethnicity in United States

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Definition and Source



Live births weighing less than 2,500 grams (5.5 pounds) by race and ethnicity.
The data reflect the mother’s place of residence, not the place where the birth occurred. Births of unknown weight were not included in these calculations. Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands are not included in the U.S. average.

It should also be noted that these figures represent the race of the mother, not the race of the child. This is important because increasing numbers of children are born to parents of different races. On birth certificates, as on most federal data collection forms, the question regarding whether a person is Hispanic is separate from the question asking whether a person is white, black, Asian or Pacific Islander, or American Indian. Thus, people are asked to select a racial group and to indicate whether they are of Hispanic origin. Race/ethnic groups represented in this table are not mutually exclusive.

The category of white includes only non-Hispanic white. The categories Black or African American, American Indian, and Asian and Pacific Islander include both Hispanic and non-Hispanic.
Those in the Hispanic or Latino category include those who may have identified as being in one of the non-White race groups.

 Starting in 2003, multiple race reporting was allowed by several states.

Data Source

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics.
1990 through 2015 state-level estimates are from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), National Vital Statistics Reports or can be accessed through the CDC Wonder online database. City-level estimates are from public use micro-data files provided by NCHS.

1999 - 2015 Population Reference Bureau analysis of National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS).


Updated May 2017.
S – NCHS reporting standards not met.
N.A. – Data not available.

Last Updated

March 2018