Objective: Newborns with low birthweight (LBW) have poorer outcomes compared to normal weight infants. There was a reported 19% prevalence of LBW in Trinidad and Tobago compared with an average 9% in Latin America and the Caribbean between 2000 and 2007. Our objective was to identify the risk factors for LBW in south west Trinidad.
Methods: This was a case-control study of all births at six health centres in south west Trinidad, between 2008 and 2010. All eligible cases of low birthweight (< 2.5 kg) and a random sample of twice the number of controls of normal birthweight (≥ 2.5 kg) were included.
Results: Six hundred and twenty-seven medical records (209 cases and 418 controls) were used out of a possible total of 3241. The mean birthweight in the cases was 2.14 kg and in the controls was 3.14 kg. Regression analysis suggested that the factors that were predictive of higher birthweight were early (< 16 weeks) and adequate number (nine or more) of antenatal visits [OR 0.57 (0.35, 0.92) p = 0.023]; male gender [OR 0.69 (0.49, 0.98) p = 0.040]; and vaginal delivery [OR 0.61 (0.40, 0.96) p = 0.031]. The factors that predicted low birthweight were maternal age ≤ 19 years [OR 1.78 (1.05, 2.93) p = 0.031] low booking maternal weight (< 50 kg) [OR 1.86 (1.18, 2.93), p = 0.007]; and a low weight gain (0 – 5 kg) [OR 1.88 (1.28, 2.75), p = 0.001]. Factors that were not predictors of birthweight in this study were parity, maternal anaemia and employment status.
Conclusion: Risk factors for LBW in Southwest Trinidad are similar to those identified internationally.