Low Birthweight

Low birthweight causes many health challenges for newborns in the days and months after their birth and serves as a strong predictor forĀ future health issues such as developmental problems, cardiovascular disease, and respiratory conditions. Low birth weight is also an indicator of the health of the mother during pregnancy and of the accessibility of maternal health resources. A child is categorized as having a low birth weight if the weight at birth is less than 2,500 grams.


Peer City Perspective

Louisville currently ranks 8th among its peer cities on this metric, with 9.4% of infants being born at a low birthweight.

Louisville is in the middle tier of its peer group for low birth weight rates according to a natural breaks algorithm. Cities in green are those that outperform their peers, cities in yellow represent the middle cluster, and those in red are a group that lags behind its peers on this indicator.

Trends over Time

The percent of babies born underweight has fluctuated between 9% and 10% over the past 15 years, and Louisville has been roughly close to the peer mean since 2008. While more years of data are needed to confirm a trend, the most recent year of data shows that Louisville might be improving compared to its peers and reducing the number of babies born with a low birthweight.

Comparison with the Most and Least Improved Cities

While underweight births in Louisville and the peer average have remained relatively constant, some cities have seen larger changes. Grand Rapids saw the largest increase in underweight births since the beginning of the data, and Knoxville saw the larges decrease in underweight births.

Differences by Race

There is a very large disparity in the percent of babies born underweight to Black mothers and to white mothers. The percent of underweight births for Black mothers in Louisville is roughly double the rate for white mothers in Louisville. Since 2014, the rate of underweight births has increased for Black mothers, while the rate of underweight births has decreased for white mothers.

Differences by Sex

Female babies are about 25% more likely to be born underweight than male babies. The discrepancy in underweight births for male and female babies in Louisville largely follows the trends seen in peer cities.