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Local Obstetrician Encouraged By Recent State Data On Birth Weights

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
Local Obstetrician Encouraged By Recent State Data On Birth Weights

New state data shows that several Upper Cumberland counties are decreasing the percentage of children born at a low birth weight.

Clay County was previously ranked 60th, and has climbed to 35th statewide. Fentress County is currently ranked fifth, the highest of the Upper Cumberland counties.

Diana Health Obstetrician Dr. Paige Gernt said the average birth weight of a term fetus currently sits between six to nine pounds. She said better access to prenatal care and an emphasis on smoking cessation has helped that average.

“Colleges like what I practice by the guidelines of the American College of OBGYN but many more colleges like the ACadmey of Pediatrics, anything maternal, fetal medicine,” Gernt said. “There have been so many of those groups involved with the campaign to improve the birth weight.”

Gernt said there is never one cause for a baby being born at a low birth weight. She said it can be attributed to dietary and nutritional habits, smoking habits, and the presence of vascular disease.

Gernt said the impact of improving a baby’s birth weight goes beyond the health of the baby and the mother. She said it can have financial implications as well, depending on the length of hospital stay after birth.

“Their hospital stay can be much longer, this would be definitely financial for the parents as well as say the facilities,” Gernt said. “Also you would have to have maybe people with close follow up with nutritionists, dieticians to help with that to improve their growth and their progression.”

Gernt said she loves hearing about the positive trends for birth weight statistics. She said there is nothing better than delivering a baby and then allowing that baby to be in the arms of the parents.

“And not having to have all these other tests and workups and not having to go to the nursery for a while and then going home,” Gernt said. “And not having that fear that they may need to have more close follow up.”

Some Upper Cumberland Counties have gone down in the ranks for low birth weight, including Putnam, White, and Overton Counties.


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