Prevalence, Trends and Predictors of Small Size Babies in Nigeria: Analysis of Data from Two Recent Nigeria Demographic and Health Surveys


  • Anthony Ike Wegbom Department of Statistics, Captain Elechi Amadi Polytechnic, Port Harcourt, Nigeria
  • Clement Kevin Edet Department of Planning, Research and Statistics, Rivers State Primary Health Care Management Board, Port Harcourt, Nigeria
  • Victor Alangibi Kiri Department of Mathematics, Physics & Electrical Engineering, Northumbria University, Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK



Prevalence, Trends, Risks factors, Small size baby, Low birth weight, Nigeria.


Background: Despite low birth weight (LBW) role on child growth, development, and survival in developing countries, it has not been given the desired priority in terms of research, at the national level in Nigeria. Our study aims to estimate the trend in the prevalence of small size babies and to identify its predictors using nationally representative data.

Methods: We used the 2013 and 2018 data from the Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey using the statistical methods of descriptive analysis and logistic regression modelling.

Results: The proportion of babies reported to have small size at birth in Nigeria declined from 14.9% in 2013 to 13.7% in 2018. Various factors from demographic, socio-economic, and health-seeking behaviour were identified as significant predictors. Women who received iron pills and tetanus toxoids during pregnancy had at most 79% and 80% less risk of having small size babies, respectively, than those who received none of these two. Female children had at least 21% more chance of being small in size than male children. Other key predictors were geopolitical region, maternal age at child birth, maternal literacy level, wealth status, religion, source of water supply, number of ANC visits during pregnancy, and desirousness of pregnancy.

Conclusion: In light of the adverse effects of low birth weight on child well-being, we recommend the implementation and prioritization of active, resourceful public health interventions that account for the findings of this study, if Nigeria is to sustain the progress achieved so far in reducing its current high rate.


Lawn JE, Cousens S, Zupan J. 4 million neonatal deaths: When? Where? Why? Lancet 2005; 365: 891-990. DOI:

Uthman OA. Effect of low birth weight on infant mortality: analysis using Weibull Hazard Model. Int J Epidemiol 2008; 6: 8. DOI:

Daynia EB, Tobias FC, Peter AC. Determinants of survival in very low birth weight neonates in a public sector hospital in Johannesburg. BMC Pediatr 2010; 10: 1030. DOI:

World Health Organization (WHO). Guidelines on optimal feeding of low birth-weight infants in low- and middle-income countries 2011; 5-31? (accessed April 12, 2020).

Adebowale SA, Morakinyo OM, Ana GR. Housing materials as predictors of under-five mortality in Nigeria: evidence from 2013 demographic and health survey. BMC Pediatr 2017; 17: 30. DOI:

Wegbom AI, Essi ID, Kiri VA. Survival Analysis of Under-five Mortality and Its Associated Determinants in Nigeria: Evidence from Survey Data. Int J of Stat and Appl 2019; 9(2): 59-66.

Wegbom AI, Kiri VA, Essi, ID. Comparison between Semi-Parametric Cox and Parametric Survival Models in Estimating the Determinants of Under-Five Mortality in Nigeria: Application in Nigerian Demographic and Health Survey. Afr J of Math and Stat Stud 2019; 2(2): 1-12.

Pojda D, Kelly L. Low birthweight-nutrition policy discussion paper no.18. UNACC Sub-Committee on Nutrition 2000. (accessed April 12, 2020).

Islam MM. The Effects of Low Birth Weight on School Performance and Behavioral Outcomes of Elementary School Children in Oman, Oman. Medical J 2015; 30: 241-251. DOI:

United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF-WHO (2019) Low birthweight estimates: Levels and trends 2000–2015. Geneva: World Health Organization; CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 IGO. (accessed April 12, 2019).

United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Country, Regional and Global Health Facts; monitoring the situation of Children and Women, World Health Statistics 2009. (accessed April 12, 2019).

World Health Organization (WHO). Global nutrition targets 2025: low birth-weight policy brief (WHO/NMH/NHD/14.5). Geneva: World Health Organization, 2014. (accessed December 12, 2019).

United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Country, Regional and Global Health Facts; monitoring the situation of Children and Women, World Health Statistics 2016 (accessed April 12, 2019).

National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey 2016-17, Survey Findings Report. Abuja, Nigeria, 2017. (accessed April 12, 2020).

Kleinbaum D, Mitchel K. Logistic Regression: A Self-Learning Text.3rd ed. Springer Science + Business Media, Inc., 2010; pp. 1-27.

Islam MM, Khan MHR. Incidence of and Risk Factors for Small Size Babies in Bangladesh. Int J Community Fam Med 2016; 1: 123. DOI:

Taddese A, Melaku U. Prevalence and Predictors of "Small Size" Babies in Ethiopia: In-depth Analysis of the Ethiopian Demographic and Health Survey, 2011. Ethiopia J of Health Sci 2016; 26(3): 243-250. DOI:

Khan A, Deeba FN, Jaleel R. Frequency, and risk factors of low birth weight in term pregnancy. Pakistan J of Med Sci 2016; 32(1): 138-142. DOI:

Isiugo-Abnihe UC, Oke OA. Maternal and environmental factors influencing infant birth weight in Ibadan, Nigeria. Afr Popul Stud 2011; 25(2): 250-266. DOI:

Maznah D, NazarAzahar OM, Norlaili A. Risk factors for low birth weight in Nigeria: evidence from the 2013 Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey. Global Health Action 2016;

National Population Commission (NPC) [Nigeria] and ICF. Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey, 2018. Abuja, Nigeria, and Rockville, Maryland, Maryland, USA: NPC and ICF. 2019. (accessed April 12, 2020)

Hueston WJ, Gilbert, GE, Davis L Sturgill V. Delayed prenatal care and the risk of low birth weight delivery. J of Comm Health 2003; 28: 199-208. DOI:

White DE, Fraser-Lee NJ, Tough S, Newburn-Cook CV. The content of prenatal care and its relationship to preterm birth in Alberta, Canada. Health Care for Women Int 2006; 27: 777-792. DOI:

Currie J, Joshua GZ, Katherine M, Matthew N, Wolfram S. Something in the water: contaminated drinking water and infant health. Canadian J Economics 2013; 46(3): 791-810. DOI:

Ghosh S. Water access and sanitation shape birth outcomes and earning potential. water-access-and-sanitation-shapes-birth-outcomes-and-earning-potential/ (accessed April 12, 2019).

Ruckart PZ, Bove FJ, Maslia M. Evaluation of contaminated drinking water and preterm birth, small for gestational age, and birth weight at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina: a cross-sectional study. BMC Environ Health 2014; 13: 99. DOI:

Aschengrau A, Gallagher LG, Winter M, Butler L, Fabian MP, Vieira VM. Modeled exposure to tetrachloroethylene contaminated drinking water and the occurrence of birth defects: a case-control study from Massachusetts and Rhode Island. BMC Environ Health 2018; 17: 75. DOI:

Eggleston E, Tsui AO, Kotelchuck M. Unintended Pregnancy and Low Birthweight in Ecuador. Amer J Public Health 2001; 91: 808-816. DOI:

Shah PS, Balkhair T, Ohlsson A, Beyene J, Scott F, Frick C. Intention to Become Pregnant and Low Birth Weight and Preterm Birth: A Systematic Review. Mater and Child Health J 2011; 15: 205-216. DOI:

Yisak G, AberaHaftu SW, Haftom G. The Prevalence and Risk Factors for Low Birth Weight among Term Newborns in Adwa General Hospital, Northern Ethiopia. Obstetrics and Gynecology International 2017. (accessed April 12, 2020). DOI:

Cogswell ME, Parvanta I, Ickes L, Yip R, Brittenham GM. Iron supplementation during pregnancy, anemia, and birth weight: a randomized controlled trial. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2003; 78(4): 773-781. DOI:

Haider BA, Olofin I, Wang M, Spiegelman D, Ezzati M, Fawzi WW. Anaemia, prenatal iron use, and risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes: systematic review and meta-analysis. 2013. (accessed April 12, 2019)

Singh A, Pallikadavath S, Ogollah R, Stone W. Maternal Tetanus Toxoid Vaccination and Neonatal Mortality in Rural North India. PloS One 2012; 7: 11. DOI:

Wegbom AI, Essi ID, Kiri VA. Estimation of the Family and Community Unobserved Heterogeneity Effects on the Risk of Under-Five Mortality in Nigeria using the Frailty Model. International Journal of Child Health & Nutrition 2020; 9(1): 17-25. DOI:




How to Cite

Wegbom, A. I., Edet, C. K., & Kiri, V. A. (2020). Prevalence, Trends and Predictors of Small Size Babies in Nigeria: Analysis of Data from Two Recent Nigeria Demographic and Health Surveys . International Journal of Child Health and Nutrition, 9(3), 115–124.



General Articles