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Public Health


James E. Rohrer


Low birth weight (LBW) is a major public health concern globally. Despite its negative social and economic impact on the family and community at large, it has remained relatively unexplored at population level in Zimbabwe. The purpose of the study was to establish determinants of LBW using data from the 2015 Zimbabwe Demographic and Health Survey. The socioecological model was the conceptual framework for the study. A secondary analysis was conducted on 4,227 mother-infant dyads. Independent variables were duration of pregnancy, number of births within the past 5-year period, exposure to mass media, type of fuel used for cooking in the household, and intimate partner violence. Covariates were maternal age at delivery, place of residence, anemia, marital status, education, wealth index, ever terminated pregnancy, infant sex, and alcohol consumption. For parsimony, statistical significance was set at p < 0.05 at the 95% confidence interval (CI). Multivariable logistic regression analysis showed that mild maternal anemia (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] 1.83 CI 1.17-2.87 p = 0.01), moderate to severe anemia (aOR 1.80 CI 1.01-3.19 p = 0.05), and being a female neonate (aOR 1.48 CI 1.17-2.87 p = 0.008) had higher odds for LBW. Pregnancy duration of 8 months (aOR 0.01 CI 0.003-0.039 p < 0.001) and of 9 months (aOR 0.12 CI 0.04-0.33 p = 0.001) had lower odds for LBW. Birth of 2 infants within a 5-year period (aOR 2.40 CI 1.24-4.66 p = 0.01) was associated with LBW. Implications for positive social change include coming up with a health policy on the management of anemia during pregnancy and health promotion messages to promote optimal birth spacing, including strategies that reduce chances for preterm deliveries.

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