Erie Vital Signs

Health Behaviors and Disease Prevention: Low Birth Weight

Recent Performance

This trend is mixed or inconclusive.

Low birth weight infants are those who weigh less than 5 pounds and 9 ounces when born. This condition is the single most important factor affecting infant mortality, and low birthweight infants who survive face a higher risk for health problems ranging from neurodevelopmental disabilities to respiratory disorders.

Since 2000, the percentage of low birth weight infants born in Erie County has fluctuated from a low of 6.3% in 2000 to a high of 9.5% in 2010. In 2012, it was 6.8%, which was lower than Pennsylvania’s value of 8.1%. Historically, the annual percentages of low birth weight infants in both Blacks and Hispanics were appreciably higher than those observed in Whites.

Note: Much of the data for the Health Indicators come from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) Survey. Each metro area decides whether or not to participate each year, so these indicators often do not have data for every year for every metro area. As a result, the graphs show markers (dots, diamonds, etc.) for the individual years rather than lines. If there are data for consecutive years, the markers will be joined with a line on the graphs.

The Basics

This indicator reports the percentage of infants born less than 5 pounds and 9 ounces (2,500 grams).

Why is this important?

According to the Centers for Disease Control, low birth weight is the single most important factor affecting neonatal mortality and is a determinant of post-neonatal mortality. Infants weighing less than 2,500 grams are almost 40 times more likely to die during their first four weeks of life than are infants of normal birthweight. Low birthweight infants who survive are at increased risk for health problems ranging from neurodevelopmental handicaps to lower respiratory tract conditions.

The Details

“The Basics” tells the story.

The Nitty-Gritty Details


This EVS indicator reports subcategories based on race/ethnicity with the following breakdowns: All races, White, Black, and Hispanic (of any race).

Peer Areas

The data are available for Erie County and the state of Pennsylvania.


There are annual updates of this EVS indicator as well as three-year summary updates in Erie County Department of Health reports.


Other Related Data

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