Tiny Babies, Huge Problem

Low birthweight takes an alarming toll worldwide, according to the first roundup of global progress on the problem.

In 2015, 1 in 7 babies born worldwide weighed under 5.5 pounds, according to the Lancet Global Health study. The health consequences—from stunting to developmental delays and heart disease—can be lifelong and multigenerational, perpetuating the cycle of poverty.

To reach the goal of reducing low birthweight births 30% by 2025, progress would have to more than double, NPR’s Goats and Soda reports.

The vast majority of low birthweight babies occurred in south Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. But since 2000 the global numbers have dropped 3%, and almost all of that progress hails from low- and middle-income countries—while wealthy countries have seen almost no improvement.

In south Asia, poor malnutrition drives the problem while in Africa, it’s infections and teen pregnancies. In the US, it's fertility treatments and unnecessary C-sections.

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