STATISTICAL MODELS OF DETERMINANTS OF BIRTH WEIGHT IN NKPOR AND ITS ENVIRONS, ANAMBRA STATE
Birth weight is an important indicator of child survival, future physical growth and mental development. Twenty million infants worldwide representing 15.5% of all births are born with low birth weight, 95.6% of them in developing countries like Nigeria. This study investigates the determinants of birth weight and proposes a statistical model that can be useful in epidemiological studies of birth weight. Data on birth weight, maternal age, gestational age and sex of index baby, on 1023 live births between 2000 and 2001 in a private hospital in Onitsha, Anambra State, were extracted from the hospital’s record. The data were analyzed using multiple regression method, Chi-square and odds ratio. Mean birth weight is 3.24 kg and standard deviation is 0.479. Males significantly weigh more than females. Mean male low birth weight and mean female low birth weight are not significantly different (p > 0.01). So also it is with mean male high birth weight and mean female high birth weight. Mean male normal birth weight is significantly higher than mean female normal birth weight (p = 0.000). This suggests that the factor responsible for the difference in mean male and mean female birth weights must be acting only within the level of normal birth weight. Level of Low Birth Weight is 3.91% and that of high birth weight is 8.50%. Birth weight significantly depends on parity, gestational age and sex of baby, p = 0.000, but not on maternal age, p > 0.01. The proposed model is birthweight (𝑦) = 0.319 + 0.002(maternal age) + 0.045(parity) + 0.010(gestation age) – 0.107(sex of baby). The model is adequate. F value is 31.957, p = 0.000. Mothers in their first pregnancies and preterm labours should be handled in medical facilities with trained personnel and adequate equipments to handle low birth weight babies. High birth weight may be an emerging important issue and healthcare providers may well start being aware of it.