Introduction: The aims of the study are (i) to understand inter-zone and interstate variation of low birth weight (LBW) and (ii) to determine the key variables to reduce LBW in India.
Methods: Using the latest National Family Health Survey (NFHS) data of 2005-06 which showed the percentage distribution of LBW infants, ANOVA and post-hoc test were performed to determine the spatial variation of birth weight. The covariates which influence LBW fell into three categories: (i) social variables which included location, mother's education, religion, access of mothers to newspapers, television and family structure; (ii) economic variable namely, the wealth index, and (iii) biological variables which consisted of sex of the children, birth order, and mother's body mass index (BMI). Three models of Logistic regression were carried out to examine the influence of the combinations of these direct and indirect factors.
Results: In India, nearly 20% of new borns have LBW. Males have less frequency of LBW than females. The North-east zone has the lowest prevalence of LBW while the north zone has the highest. Mother's education, access to TV and nuclear family, and intake of iron tablets are the most important socio-economic influences on the determination of birth weight in India.
Conclusion: It is essential to provide proper diet and nutritional care of mothers during pregnancy. Increased education of mothers through programmes in TV and newspapers articles have significant roles to play in reducing LBW in India.