Maternal and environmental factors influencing infant birth weight in Ibadan, Nigeria

  • Uche C. Isiugo-Abanihe Department of Sociology, University of Ibadan, Ibadan.
  • Olubukola A. Oke Department of Behavioural Studies, Redeemer’s University, Mowe
Keywords: Antenatal care, high risk pregnancy, skilled care, maternal health, birth weight.


Fetal weight at birth is a major determinant of survival, physical growth and mental development of an infant. About 14 percent of all births in Nigeria are born with low birth weight. Studies on birth weight in Nigeria have focused mainly on the biomedical risk factors and have largely ignored the influence the socio-cultural environment which encompasses maternal knowledge, beliefs, and practices during the prenatal period. With the premise that birth weight shows a reverse social gradient, this study examined the effects of maternal, sociocultural and environmental factors on the birth weight of infants in Ibadan. The research adopted a prospective survey design method involving multistage sampling procedure to select 1,138 pregnant women accessing antenatal care services from both orthodox and community health providers. The instrument comprised structured questionnaire, and secondary data were generated from the patients’ files retrieved from the antenatal care centres. The study identified a number of maternal, socioeconomic and environmental factors that significantly influence low birth weight and suggested actions that would help reduce the risk factors of low birth weight and promote care-seeking and demand for skilled care at all stages of pregnancy.