Poverty Vs. Low Birth Weights
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There exist some evidence that poverty can result in low birth weight in newborn infants. On Prince Edward Island, low birth weights are currently the lowest as compared to the national average according to Statistics Canada. However, the link that exist between poverty and low birth weights leaves unanswered questions as to what can be done to reduce these low birth weights in newborn infants.
The effect of Poverty on Low Birth Weight in Newborns
Receiving good prenatal care is extremely important for an expecting mother. The prenatal period has a great impact on the newborns health. Low birth weight is a problem among a certain population of newborns. It is crucial to understand the conditions in poverty and its affects on birth weights in infants.
“Several communities characteristics associated with poverty are negatively associated with low birth weight” (Roberts, 1997)
In 2000, the PEI Reproductive Care Program, reported that Prince Edward Island had the lowest percentage of low birth weight infant at 4.3% compared to the National average of 5.6%, however there is much taught about the link of low birth weight and poverty.
According to the 2000 study, mothers living in West Prince were the youngest with the highest percentage of birth rates (11.3%), these being women under 20 years of age. This can also be a contributor since young women may not have finished school or post secondary educational therefore resulting in jobs with less income. This weighs on their health care and ability to have the best prenatal care available.
Diet factors can also play a major factor in low birth weights. In a study done comparing Latina women both in the United States and Mexico, showed that Latino women born in Mexico consumed diets richer in calcium, folate, protein, vitamin A and ascorbic acid than Latino women born in the United States who instead ate diets consisting more of high fat foods, sugars and cereals, associated with low birth weights (Pearl, 2001). Poverty decreases the chances of expecting mothers to be able to buy all the proper foods available in order to eat a properly balanced diet high in all the nutrients needed for her and her baby.
This paper describes the incidence of low birth weight in newborns in relation to the level of poverty among women on Prince Edward Island.
Apparatus and/or Materials
The source of the data was found using Statistics Canada database CANSIM. Incidence of low birth weight from 1991 to 2001 on Prince Edward Island, v5939746 Table 102-4005. Comparing the above date to the number of women in poverty from 1991 to 2001 on Prince Edward Island v1561214, Table 202-0802.
The data was represented in terms of actual numbers of low birth weight infants on Prince Edward Island and the low income data was also in terms of actual numbers of people but rounded to the thousands.
The data was transformed from the raw data to index number and then smoothing out the data with the method of moving average to be able to represent the data graphically.
Variables: The numbers of women in poverty on Prince Edward Island (1991-2001), the numbers of low birth weight in newborns on Prince Edward Island (1991-2001).
The result of correlation between the numbers of women in poverty on Prince Edward Island and the number of low birth weight of infant on a yearly basis proved to be not significant (r(df)= -0.19, p > 0.5). Therefore there is no sufficient indication that poverty is a leading cause in low birth weight in newborns. There is evidence that there has been a decline in low birth weight and incline in poverty from 1998 to 2001. (see figure 1)
Since the results of this research was not significant, there was no evidence supporting the hypothesis that poverty is associated with low birth weights on Prince Edward Island.
However taking a larger group of data may help in showing more significant findings. Other studies have found that there exist a strong relationship between poverty and low birth weights