Background: The Global Nutrition Target of reducing low birthweight (LBW) by ≥30% between 2012 and 2025 has led to renewed interest in producing accurate, population-based, national LBW estimates. Low- and middle-income countries rely on household surveys for birthweight data. These data are frequently incomplete and exhibit strong "heaping." Standard survey adjustment methods produce estimates with residual bias. The global database used to report against the LBW Global Nutrition Target adjusts survey data using a new MINORMIX (multiple imputation followed by normal mixture) approach: 1) multiple imputation to address missing birthweights, followed by 2) use of a 2-component normal mixture model to account for heaping of birthweights.
Objectives: To evaluate the performance of the MINORMIX birthweight adjustment approach and alternative methods against gold-standard measured birthweights in rural Nepal.
Methods: As part of a community-randomized trial in rural Nepal, we measured "gold-standard" birthweights at birth and returned 1-24 mo later to collect maternally reported birthweights using standard survey methods. We compared estimates of LBW from maternally reported data derived using: 1) the new MINORMAX approach; 2) the previously used Blanc-Wardlaw adjustment; or 3) no adjustment for missingness or heaping against our gold standard. We also assessed the independent contribution of multiple imputation and curve fitting to LBW adjustment.
Results: Our gold standard found 27.7% of newborns were LBW. The unadjusted LBW estimate based on maternal report with simulated missing birthweights was 14.5% (95% CI: 11.6, 18.0%). Application of the Blanc-Wardlaw adjustment increased the LBW estimate to 20.6%. The MINORMIX approach produced an estimate of 26.4% (95% CI: 23.5, 29.3%) LBW, closest to and with bounds encompassing the measured point estimate.
Conclusions: In a rural Nepal validation dataset, the MINORMIX method generated a more accurate LBW estimate than the previously applied adjustment method. This supports the use of the MINORMIX method to produce estimates for tracking the LBW Global Nutrition Target.
Keywords: low birthweight; low- and middle-income country; multiple imputation; survey; validation.
© The Author(s) 2021. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the American Society for Nutrition.