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Vietnam's Low Birth Weight Rate Among the Lowest in Asia-Pacific: Report

A recently published paper produced by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, UNICEF, and the World Health Organization (WHO) looks at birth weight data in 148 countries from 2000 to 2015.

According to a press release from UNICEF, data from the research suggests that low birth weight rate in Vietnam only decreased by 1% between 2000 and 2015, from 9.2% in 2000 to 8.2% in 2015. A baby is considered to have a low birth weight if under 2.5 kilograms.

The data also shows that Vietnam's low birth weight rate is also the best in Southeast Asia and Oceania region in 2015, an encouraging sign. A low birth weight increases risks of newborn fatalities; those who survive are also more likely to experience developmental issues later on.

While it's a positive sign that Vietnam is doing well in terms of keeping low birth weight rate from increasing, the paper points out the fact that the country hasn't shown much progress in the past 15 years which is part of a troubling global pattern. Moreover, there are aspects that these number can't reflect.

"As a national average, it does not give us the complete picture and is likely to hide important disparities, for example among the poorest mothers, 28 percent of whom do not have institutional deliveries, and their newborn’s weight is not usually recorded,” said UNICEF Representative Rana Flowers.

The paper's assessment of global low birth weight rate finds that global low birth weight prevalence only dropped from 17.5% in 2000 to 14.6% in 2015.

Drawing from these results, the paper's authors recommend that more investment and urgent action from nations and the international community should be taken.

For Vietnam, Flowers contends that "improved levels can be achieved, with a stronger focus on maternal nutrition delivered in quality ante-natal care, and institutional delivery services for all mothers, especially the poorest and those in remote and mountainous areas."

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