Influence of maternal autonomy and socioeconomic factors on birth weight of infants in India

Article Type

Research Article

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Malaysian Journal of Nutrition


Introduction: Child's birth weight (BW) is an important aspect not only during childhood but also affects morbidity and mortality in adulthood. The focus of this study is to examine the role of different socioeconomic factors, along with women's decision-making autonomy on the determination of infant BW. Methods: The dataset was obtained from the National Family Health Survey, India (2005-06). The respondents were women of reproductive age (15-49 years) having at least one living child at least five years old preceding the survey. This study considered only the last single live birth child having a recorded BW at the time of delivery. Results: The results showed that 19% of the infants were born with low birth weight (LBW) with regional variations ranging from 13% to 27%. The mean BW of infants of mothers from high autonomy category was 2.90±0.645 kg, while that of mothers with low autonomy was 2.75±0.702 kg. The proportion of LBW infants was significantly higher among mothers with low education, short stature, low BMI and poor wealth index category. Percentage of LBW infants were lower among mothers with autonomy including taking care of their own health (18% versus 21% who were not), making large purchases (17% vs 22%), visiting relatives (18% vs 22%), and allowed to go to the market (18% vs 22%). Conclusion: The findings indicated that the mother's freedom of movement and financial independence were significantly associated with infant's BW in India. Attention should be given to improving the socio-economic conditions and empowerment of Indian women.

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