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Live Births Weighing Less Than 2,500 Grams

Medicaid is the largest payer for maternity care in the United States. Infant birth weight is a common measure of infant and maternal health and well-being. Infants weighing less than 2,500 grams at birth may experience serious and costly health problems and developmental delays. Pregnant women are at higher risk of a low birth weight baby if they have:

  • chronic health conditions, such as high blood pressure or diabetes
  • low weight gain during pregnancy
  • high stress levels
  • high-risk behaviors, such as drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes, or using drugs

Explore the percentage of live births weighing less than 2,500 grams (5.5 pounds). Lower rates are better.

The purple dashed line represents the median, or middle of all values reported.

This measure reports the percentage of live births weighing less than 2,500 grams during the measurement year.

States voluntarily report on Live Births Weighing Less Than 2,500 Grams (LBW-CH) as part of the Core Set of Children's Health Care Quality Measures. These data show performance rates for states that voluntarily reported the measure using Child Core Set measure specifications.

The included populations and reporting methods for Child Core Set measures can vary by state. For example, some states report data on certain populations such as those covered under managed care but not those covered under fee-for-service (FFS). This variation in data can affect measure performance and comparisons between states.

Live Births Weighing Less Than 2,500 Grams

Source: Mathematica analysis of Medicaid and CHIP Program System (MACPro) reports as of June 3, 2019 for the Child Core Set Federal Fiscal Year (FFY) 2018 reporting cycle; see 2018 Child and Adult Health Care Quality Measures. For more information on Live Births Weighing Less Than 2,500 Grams (LBW-CH) visit Child Health Care Quality Measures.


The following states did not report data to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) for this measure: AZ, CA, CO, CT, DC, GA, HI, ID, KS, MD, MO,  MS, MT, ND, NJ, NM, OR, RI, SD, UT, VA, WI, and WY.  

The following states reported the measure to CMS, but did not use Child Core Set specifications to calculate the measure: AR, DE, and IN. CMS did not include the rates for these states.

# = Rate not reported because denominator is less than 30.

The Child Core Set specifications include guidance for calculating this measure using state vital records. States may link vital records data to administrative claims data to determine payer source.

 Unless otherwise specified:

  • States used Child Core Set specifications, based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 2018 specifications.
  • Denominators are assumed to be the measure-eligible population for states using the administrative method. Some states reported exclusions from the denominator, as noted in the state-specific comments.
  • The measurement period for this measure was January 1, 2017 to December 31, 2017. MA reported data for Calendar Year (CY) 2016. KY reported data for CY 2018.

ADHD = Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder; CCO = Coordinated Care Organization; CHIP = Children’s Health Insurance Program; CMS = Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services; CPT = Current Procedural Terminology; CY = Calendar Year; ED = Emergency Department; EPSDT = Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic, and Treatment; EQRO = External Quality Review Organization; FFS = Fee for Service; FFY = Federal Fiscal Year; HEDIS = Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set; HMO = Health Maintenance Organization; ICD = International Classification of Diseases; LOINC = Logical Observation Identifiers Names and Codes; MACPro = Medicaid and CHIP Program System; MCO = Managed Care Organization; MMIS = Medicaid Management Information System; NCQA = National Committee for Quality Assurance; NR = Not Reported; PCCM = Primary Care Case Management; PCP = Primary Care Practitioner.