TULSA, Okla. (AP) -- A report from the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy indicates 7.8 percent of babies born in Oklahoma each year are underweight.
The group's "Kids Count" report shows the number of low-weight births has risen by almost 10 percent from the mid-1990s, according to The Tulsa World. The report indicates that more than 4,200 babies are born too small in Oklahoma each year.
A low birth weight is generally defined as anything less than 5.5 pounds. Doctors say it can put children at risk for chronic health issues such as developmental disabilities, attention deficit disorder, obesity and diabetes.
Lisa Owens, medical director at Neonatal Intensive Care at Hillcrest Medical Center in Tulsa, says lack of health care, along with alcohol and drug use by mothers, contribute to the problem in Oklahoma.