Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

Maternal anthropometry as a predictor of birth weight

  • Shamsun Nahar (a1) (a2), C G N Mascie-Taylor (a1) and Housne Ara Begum (a1) (a3)

To determine whether maternal anthropometry predicted birth weight, and if so, to identify which cut-offs provided the best prediction of low birth weight (LBW) in a field situation.


Community-based longitudinal study.


A rural union of Bhaluka Upazila, Mymensingh, located 110 km north-west of Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh.


A total of 1104 normotensive, non-smoking pregnant women who attended community nutrition centres were studied from first presentation at the centre until delivery of their child.


Most of the pregnant mothers were between 20 and 34 years of age. Over one-third of the women were nulliparous, while 12.8% were multiparous (parity ≥ 4). Most (93%) mothers registered between the 3rd and 5th month of pregnancy. The frequency of LBW ( < 2500 g) was 17%. Polynomial regression analyses showed that the best predictors of birth weight (based on adjusted R2 values) were in general weight at registration and weight at month 9, with adjusted R2 ranging from 2.5% to nearly 20%. Sequential regression analyses with height and weight showed that there was a significant effect of height after removing the weight variables, and adjusted R2 increased in all analyses. Weight and height at registration month continued to be the best predictors of LBW. Sensitivity and specificity curves were drawn for each registration month, body mass index and different weight gain groups, and using different weight and height combinations. The results showed that, for registration month 3–5, a combination of weight ( ≤ 45 kg) and height ( ≤ 150 cm) gave the highest sensitivity, which was 50%. However, maternal weight ≤ 43 kg in pregnancy month 3–5 alone gave the highest sensitivity of 80%.


The best predictor of birth weight as a continuous variable was maternal weight at registration, each 1 kg increase in weight at registration being associated with an increase in birth weight of about 260 g. Maternal weight ≤ 43 kg in pregnancy month 3–5 alone gave the highest sensitivity of 80%. A combination of initial weight and height of the mother was not as good a predictor of LBW as weight alone.

    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Maternal anthropometry as a predictor of birth weight
      Available formats
      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Maternal anthropometry as a predictor of birth weight
      Available formats
      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Maternal anthropometry as a predictor of birth weight
      Available formats
Corresponding author
*Corresponding author: Email
Hide All
1Merchant SS, Momin IA, Sewani AA, Zuberi NF. Effect of prepregnancy body mass index and gestational weight gain on birth weight. Journal of the Pakistan Medical Association 1999; 49: 23–5.
2Kramer M. Determinants of low birth weight: methodological assessment and meta-analysis. Bulletin of the World Health Organization 1987; 65: 663737.
3Shah K. The evolution of the use of arm circumference for assessing maternal nutritional status. In: Krasovec K, Anderson MA, eds. Maternal Nutrition and Pregnancy Outcomes. Anthropometric Assessment. PAHO Scientific Publication No. 529. Washington, DC: Pan American Health Organization, 1991; 132–7.
4Naeye R. Weight gain and the outcome of pregnancy. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology 1979; 135: 39.
5de Siqueira AAF, Junior CC, Marcondes De Almeida PA, Tanaka ACd'A, Montelone PPR, et al. . The influence of maternal height and weight gain and gestational age on the newborn's weight. Revista de Saúde Pública 1975; 9: 331–42.
6Tripathi AM, Agarwal DK, Devi RR, Cherian S. Nutritional status of rural pregnant women and fetal outcome. Indian Pediatrics 1987; 24: 703–12.
7Winikoff B, Debrovner C. Anthropometric determinants of birth weight. Obstetrics and Gynecology 1981; 58: 678–84.
8Lohman TG, Roche AF, Martorell R. Anthropometric Standardization Reference Manual. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics Books, 1988.
9Parkin JM, Hey EN, Clowes JS. Rapid assessment of gestational age at birth. Archives of Disease in Childhood 1976; 51: 259–63.
10Ceesay SM, Prentice AM, Cole TJ, Foord F, Weaver LT, Poskitt EM, et al. . Effects on birth weight and perinatal mortality of maternal dietary supplements in rural Gambia: 5 year randomised controlled trial. British Medical Journal 1997; 315: 786–90.
11Ulijaszek SJ, Kerr DA. Anthropometric measurement error and the assessment of nutritional status. British Journal of Nutrition 1999; 82: 165–77.
12Brush G, Harrison GA, Barber FM, Zumrawi FY. Comparative variability and interval correlation in linear growth of Hong Kong and Sudanese infants. American Journal of Human Biology 1992; 17: 291–9.
13Canosa CA. Intrauterine growth retardation in India and Bangladesh. In: Intrauterine Growth Retardation. Nestlé Nutrition Workshop Series No. 18. New York: Raven Press, 1989; 183204.
14United Nations Children's Fund. The State of the World's Children. Washington, DC: The World Bank, 1991.
15Ahmed FU, Das AM, Mostafa M, Begum S. The Distribution of Birth Weight in an Urban Maternity Center of Bangladesh. Dhaka, Bangladesh, UNICEF, 1992.
16Karim E, Mascie-Taylor CGN. The association between birth weight, sociodemographic variables and maternal anthropometry in an urban sample from Dhaka, Bangladesh. Annals of Human Biology 1997; 24: 387401.
17Nahar N, Afroza S, Hossain M. Incidence of low birth weight in three communities in Bangladesh. Bangladesh Medical Research Council Bulletin 1998; 18: 157–64.
18Dhar B, Mowlah G, Kabir D. Newborn anthropometry and its relationship with maternal factors. Bangladesh Medical Research Council Bulletin 2003; 29: 4858.
19Pakrasi K, Sil S, Dasgupta P, Dasgupta I. Patterns of low birth weight in the Bengali newborns. Indian Journal of Physical Anthropology and Human Genetics 1985; 11: 107–22.
20Arifeen SE, Black RE, Caulfield LE, Antelman G, Baqui AH, Nahar Q, et al. . Infant growth patterns in the slums of Dhaka in relation to birth weight, intrauterine growth retardation, and prematurity. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2000; 72: 1010–7.
21Kardjati S, Kusin JA, de With C. Energy supplementation in the last trimester of pregnancy in East Java: I. Effect on birthweight. British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology 1988; 95: 783–94.
22Esguerra AB, Diamante AN, Ramos MM Jr, Doctor VS, Valdes CB, Pagorogon RR et al. . Concise screening scales for high-risk mothers and newborns. In: Del Mundo F, Ines-Cuyegkeng E, Aviado DM eds, Primary Maternal and Neonatal Health: A Global Concern. New York: Plenum Press, 1983, 347–69.
23Kelly A, Kevany J, de Onis M, Shah PM. A WHO Collaborative Study of Maternal Anthropometry and Pregnancy Outcomes. International Journal of Gynaecology and Obstetrics 1996; 53: 219–33.
24Anon. Can maternal height and weight be used to predict pregnancy outcome? SafeMotherhood 1996; 22: 10–1.
25Karan S, Mathur BC. Risk factors in mothers and newborn. Indian Pediatrics 1987; 54: 3540.
26Shah KP, Shah PM. Relationship between weight during pregnancy and birth weight. Indian Pediatrics 1972; 9: 526–31.
27Shah K. Survival card for married women for better obstetric performance. Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology of India 1978; 28: 1015–20.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Public Health Nutrition
  • ISSN: 1368-9800
  • EISSN: 1475-2727
  • URL: /core/journals/public-health-nutrition
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 8
Total number of PDF views: 163 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 264 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 21st October 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.