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Birth weight is an important indicator of child survival, future physical growth and
mental development. Twenty million infants world wide representing 15.5% of all
births are born with low birth weight, 95.6% of them in developing countries like
Nigeria. This study investigates the determinants of birth weight and proposes a
statistical model that can be useful in epidemiological studies of birth weight. Data
on birth weight, maternal age, gestational age and sex of index baby, on 1023 live
births between 2000 and 2001 in a private hospital in Onitsha, Anambra State, were
extracted from the hospital’s record. The data were analyzed using multiple
regression method, Chi-square and odds ratio. Mean birth weight is 3.24 kg and
standard deviation is 0.479. Males significantly weigh more than females. Mean male
low birth weight and mean female low birth weight are not significantly different (p >
0.01). So also it is with mean male high birth weight and mean female high birth
weight. Mean male normal birth weight is significantly higher than mean female
normal birth weight (p = 0.000). This suggests that the factor responsible for the
difference in mean male and mean female birth weights must be acting only within
the level of normal birth weight. Level of Low Birth Weight is 3.91% and that of high
birth weight is 8.50%. Birth weight significantly depends on parity, gestational age
and sex of baby, p = 0.000, but not on maternal age, p > 0.01. The proposed model is birthweight ( ) = 0.319 + 0.002(maternal age) + 0.045(parity) + 0.010(gestation age) 0.107(sex of baby). The model is adequate. F value is 31.957, p = 0.000. Mothers in their first pregnancies and preterm labours should be handled in medical facilities
with trained personnel and adequate equipments to handle low birth weight babies.
High birth weight may be an emerging important issue and healthcare providers may
well start being aware of it.


Title page i
Approval page ii
Dedication iii
Acknowledgement iv
Abstract v
Table of Contents vi
List of Tables ix

Chapter one Introduction 1
1.0 Statement of the Problem 1
1.1 Significance of the Study 2
1.2 Scope and Limitations 2
1.3 Objectives 2
Chapter two Literature Review 3
Chapter three Research Methodology and Data Presentation 14
3.0 Type of Data 14
3.1 Source of Data 14
3.2 Method 14
3.2.1 Regression Analysis 15 Test for Significant Relationship 16
vii Coefficient of Multiple Determination 19
3.2.2 Hypothesis Testing 19
3.2.3 Dummy Variables 21
3.2.4 Determination of number of Categories 22
3.2.5 Odds Ratio 23
3.2.6 Chi-Square 24
3.3 Data Presentation 25
Chapter four Data Analysis 26
4.0 Univariate Analysis of Birth Weight and its Determinants 26
4.1 Analysis of Birth Weight by Age and Sex 26
4.2 Analysis of Birth Weight by Parity and Sex 27
4.3 Testing for Difference Between Mean Birth Weight of
Male and Female Babies 27
4.4 Rate of Low Birth Weight 28
4.5 Testing for Difference between Mean Male Low Birth
Weight and Mean Female Low Birth Weight 29
4.6 Rate of High Birth Weight 31
4.7 Testing for Difference between Mean Male High Birth
Weight and Mean Female High Birth Weight 31
4.8 Testing for Difference between Mean Normal Birth Weight
of Male and Female Babies 33

4.9 Relationship between Parity and Age of Mother 34
4.10 Relationship between Birth Weight and Parity 35
4.11 Relationship between Birth Weight and Categories of Parity using Odds Ratio and χ 36 4.12 Relationship between Birth Weight and Gestational Age 39
4.13 Relationship between Birth Weight and Maternal Age 40
4.14 Regression Analysis 40
4.15 Regression Analysis using Dummy Variables 41
Chapter Five Summary, Conclusion and Recommendations 49
References 51
Appendix 57



More than 20 million infants worldwide representing 15.5% of all births are born
with low birth weight, 95.6% of them in developing countries (United Nations
Children Fund, 2008). Low birth weight is of public health concern because of the
increased morbidity associated with it. The level of low birth weight in developing
countries is 16.5% and it is more than double the level in developed regions which is
7% (United Nations Children Fund and WHO, 2004).

The exact number of deliveries in Nigeria is not known. The percentage of low birth
weight may not be known but the absolute figure is probably enormous. In
developed countries such babies will be a burden on the government but in Nigeria
and other developing countries, they are likely to be a permanent burden on the
families. With the poor resource setting we have in Nigeria, such burden will worsen
the economic fortunes of the poor families.

In this era when medicine is emphasizing primary treatment (preventive medicine)
epidemiology becomes a veritable tool. Epidemiology of low birth weight is the
study of the phenomenon, factors that affect it and the use of the knowledge in
managing the phenomenon. Some of the factors known in literature that affect birth
weight are modifiable like the social and environmental factors. They can easily
change. Some factors are not modifiable and may have statistical relationship with
the birth weight as a dependent variable. Gestational age, parity, age of mother and
sex of baby are non-modifiable factors. In-depth knowledge of these factors and
their relationship with birth weight is necessary for Obstetricians, Pediatricians,
Public Health Physicians and Health Policy makers to understand the epidemiology
of low birth weight and reduce its prevalence and associated public health
consequences. Literature is scanty in Nigeria including Anambra State. No statistical
model has been developed yet to address this issue. This study proposes to examine
these factors namely parity, maternal age, gestational age of index pregnancy and
sex of index baby and develop an exploratory model of these determinants of birth
weight that may be useful in epidemiological studies.

Method of multiple regression will be used in model specification. All the 1023 life
births obtained in a private hospital between 2000 and 2001 will be used in checking
the adequacy of the proposed model. For financial and time constraints, the scope is
limited to Nkpor, Onitsha and its environs which form the catchment area of the
hospital from which data will be collected.

The general objective of the study is to do a statistical analysis of birth weight and of
the independent variables that affect it. The specific objectives are:
1. To determine the association, if any, between birth weight and any of the
following variables; parity, age of mother, sex of baby and gestational age.
2. To determine the relationship between parity and age of mother
3. To develop an exploratory model of birth weight with parity, maternal age,
sex of baby and gestational age as its determinants.


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