Open Access Research article

Factors associated with small size at birth in Nepal: further analysis of Nepal Demographic and Health Survey 2011

Vishnu Khanal1*, Kay Sauer12, Rajendra Karkee3 and Yun Zhao1

Author Affiliations

1 School of Public Health, Curtin University, Perth, Australia

2 Centre for Behavioural Research in Cancer ControlCurtin University, Perth, Western, Australia

3 School of Public Health, BP Koirala Institute of Health Sciences, Dharan, Nepal

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BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth 2014, 14:32  doi:10.1186/1471-2393-14-32

Published: 18 January 2014



The global Low Birth Weight (LBW) rate is reported to be 15.5% with more than 95% of these LBW infants being from developing countries. LBW is a major factor associated with neonatal deaths in developing countries. The determinants of low birth weight in Nepal have rarely been studied. This study aimed to identify the factors associated with small size at birth among under-five children.


Data from the 2011 Nepal Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS) were used. The association between small size at birth and explanatory variables were analysed using Chi-square tests (χ2) followed by logistic regression. Complex Sample Analysis was used to adjust for study design and sampling.


A total of 5240 mother- singleton under five child pairs were included in the analysis, of which 936 (16.0%) children were reported as small size at birth. Of 1922 infants whose birth weight was recorded, 235 (11.5%) infants had low birth weight (<2500 grams). The mean birth weight was 3030 grams (standard deviation: 648.249 grams).

The mothers who had no antenatal visits were more likely (odds ratio (OR) 1.315; 95% confidence interval (CI) (1.042-1.661)) to have small size infants than those who had attended four or more antenatal visits. Mothers who lived in the Far-western development region were more likely to have (OR 1.698; 95% CI (1.228-2.349)) small size infants as compared to mothers from the Eastern development region. Female infants were more likely (OR 1.530; 95% CI (1.245-1.880)) to be at risk of being small than males.


One in every six infants was reported to be small at birth. Attendance of antenatal care programs appeared to have a significant impact on birth size. Adequate antenatal care visits combined with counselling and nutritional supplementation should be a focus to reduce adverse birth outcomes such as small size at birth, especially in the geographically and economically disadvantaged areas such as Far-western region of Nepal.

Antenatal care; Cross sectional survey; Low birth weight; Nepal