Help solve the mystery of low birth weight in PNG

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Shockingly, one in seven babies in PNG is born with a low birth weight. Babies born too small are often too weak to fight infection and as a result are very likely to die.

Even if they survive, they can suffer severe health problems throughout their life, and have a shorter life expectancy.

Professor James Beeson, a Principal Investigator with the Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies (HMHB) project, is a part of the team leading a major study into the issue of low birth weight in PNG.

Professor James Beeson

“Low birth weight is a very complex medical issue,” Professor Beeson said. “While there are some things we do know about the causes of low birth weight, the precise combination of factors in PNG is not fully known. Plus, there may always be new factors we simply haven’t come across before.

“We know that poor nutrition in mothers can be a key factor leading to low birth weight in babies. Infection during pregnancy can be a factor. I have also seen first-hand that mothers in PNG are suffering from high rates of anaemia which may be linked to low birth weight."

“It’s critical that we fully understand the causes of low birth weight specific to PNG in order for us to have any impact on this deadly problem.”

While the causes of low birth weight in PNG are largely unknown to us, it’s a mystery you can help us solve.