Cuba's prenatal program improves low birth weights, study finds

(Medical Xpress)—Comprehensive prenatal care can decrease the rate of low birth weights, according to a study led by Dr. Yasmin Neggers, a University of Alabama researcher and professor of human nutrition and hospitality management.

Neggers and her colleague, Dr. Kristi Crowe, UA assistant professor of nutrition, traveled to Havana, Cuba during February 2012 to conduct research on the relationship between comprehensive prenatal care and rate of in this developing country.

Low birth weight, or LBW, – less than five and a half pounds at birth – is a significant factor affecting and predictor of .

Neggers, whose main research focus is nutrition during pregnancy, was intrigued by Cuba's low rate of LBW.

"Cuba, being a third-world, developing country, has a LBW rate that is half that of Alabama. It was kind of surprising."

She and Crowe, assistant professor of nutrition, looked at the factors that are usually linked to low birth weight such as smoking, gaining weight during pregnancy and .

All of those factors were not in Cuba's favor.

"All the typical risk factors that cause low birth rate are better in the United States and Alabama," Neggers said. "So, we looked at prenatal care, the care before and during pregnancy, and there was the difference. Prenatal care in Cuba is so much better than typical U.S. care, especially compared to Alabama."

Pregnant women in Cuba are provided free prenatal visits to their doctors very frequently, get adequate and regular screenings and , including vitamin and mineral supplements, and get the proper remedies if something is amiss.

"Here, especially in poor and rural counties, prenatal care is often infrequent, and only half of the women get adequate prenatal care. Some just go to the emergency room to have the baby – they never have any prenatal care."

Working with faculty at the University of Havana and the Cuban Institute of Nutrition and Hygiene, Neggers and Crowe are developing a proposal for further research.

Related Stories

Homelessness' impact on mothers, babies

date Aug 18, 2011

A BYU study appearing in Pediatrics found that pregnant women who were homeless at some point in a 12-month period leading up to their deliveries had babies with lower birth weights. ...

Multivitamins in pregnancy reduce risk of low birth weights

date Jun 08, 2009

Prenatal multivitamin supplements are associated with a significantly reduced risk of babies with a low birth weight compared with prenatal iron-folic acid supplementation, found a new study in the Canadian Medical Association Jo ...

Recommended for you

Cribs are for sleeping, car seats are for traveling

date 20 hours ago

Sleep-related deaths are the most common cause of death for infants 1-12 months of age. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants sleep on their back on a firm mattress, without loose bedding. However, many ...

One child in five still not vaccinated: WHO

date Apr 22, 2015

One-fifth of the world's children are still not receiving routine life-saving vaccinations and efforts to ensure global immunisation coverage remain "far off track," the World Health Organization said Wednesday.

Reducing school bus pollution improves children's health

date Apr 22, 2015

Use of clean fuels and updated pollution control measures in the school buses 25 million children ride every day could result in 14 million fewer absences from school a year, based on a study by the University ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.