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Open Access Short Report

The effects of birth weight and gender on neonatal mortality in north central Nigeria

Caroline A Onwuanaku*, Seline N Okolo, Kemi O Ige, Sylvanus E Okpe and Bose O Toma

Author Affiliations

Department of Paediatrics, Jos University Teaching Hospital, Jos, Nigeria

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BMC Research Notes 2011, 4:562  doi:10.1186/1756-0500-4-562

Published: 24 December 2011



Worldwide 15.5% of neonates are born with low birth weight, 95.6% of them in the developing countries. Prematurity accounts for 10% of neonatal mortality globally. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effects of birth weight and gender on neonatal outcome.


The data of 278 neonates managed in the Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU) of Jos University Teaching Hospital (JUTH) over a 2 year period from July 2006 to June 2008 were analyzed.

One hundred and fifty nine (57.2%) were males and 119(42.8%) females. There were 87(31.3%) preterm and 191 (68.7%) term babies. Twelve of the babies died. Seven (2.52%) and 5 (1.80%) being males and females respectively. The neonatal mortality rate by gender was not significant (p > 0.05). The neonatal mortality was 25.2 deaths per 1000 live births for boys and 18.0 for girls. The mean birth weights of the preterm and term babies were 1.88 ± 0.47 kg and 3.02 ± 0.50 kg respectively, with a mean gestational age of 30.62 ± 3.65 weeks and 38.29 ± 0.99 weeks respectively.

Eighty seven (31.3%) of the babies were of low birth weight, 188(67.6%) were of normal birth weight and 3(1.1%) high birth weight. Of the low birth weight babies, 6(2.2%) were term small for gestational age. Six (2.2%) of the preterm infants had normal birth weight.

Eleven of the babies that died were preterm low birth weight. The overall mortality rate was 4.32%. The birth weight specific mortality rate was 126 per 1000 for the preterm low birth weight and 5 per 1000 for the term babies. Birth weight unlike gender is a significant predictor of mortality, mortality being higher in neonates of <2.5 kg (OR = 0.04; 95% Cl 0.005-0.310, p = 0.002) (p = 0.453). Seven (58.3%) and 4(33.3%) of the pre-terms that died were appropriate and large for gestational age respectively. Gestational age is not a significant predictor of neonatal mortality (p = 0.595). Babies delivered at less than 37 weeks of gestation recorded a higher rate of mortality than those of 37 weeks and above (p = 0.000).

The subjects showed one or more major clinical indications for admission. The major clinical indications for the preterm and term babies were respectively as follows: neonatal sepsis 63(22.7%) and 124(44.6%); neonatal jaundice 32(11.1%) and 71(24.7%); malaria 9(3.1%) and 13(4.5%); birth asphyxia 3(1.0%) and 7(2.4%). Neonatal sepsis was a common denominator among the babies that died.


Birth weight unlike gender is a significant predictor of neonatal outcome

Birth weight; Gender; Gestational age; Neonatal mortality; North central; Nigeria