Neonatal Weight Matters: An Examination of Weight Changes in Full-Term Breastfeeding Newborns During the First 2 Weeks of Life

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Weight changes in the early weeks of life are important indicators of newborn wellness. Yet, little is known about weight loss patterns for breastfeeding newborns.

Research aim:

This study aimed to compare weight changes and exclusive breastfeeding rates in newborns who lost ≤ 7% and > 7% of their body weight after birth.


A prospective, observational cohort study was completed. Newborns who lost ≤ 7% made up Group 1 and newborns who lost > 7% of birth weight made up Group 2. Mothers used a digital scale to weigh their newborns daily until 14 days of life. Newborn intake and outputs were also recorded.


Mean (with standard deviation in parentheses) weight loss for all newborns (N = 151) was 7.68% (2.35%). Newborns in Group 1 (n = 67) lost 5.7% (0.99%) and newborns in Group 2 lost 9.3% (1.87%). More than half of healthy, full-term newborns (56%) lost > 7%. On Day 14, the exclusive breastfeeding rate for newborns in Group 2 was significantly less than for those in Group 1 (60% vs. 82%; p = .033). Newborns gained a mean of 1.1% body weight daily; those in Group 1 gained 1.2% daily, and those in Group 2 gained 1.0% daily.


Weight loss > 7% may be a normal phenomenon among breastfeeding newborns. Newborns who lost > 7% had a lower exclusive breastfeeding rate at 2 weeks of age. After the weight nadir was reached, most newborns gained weight at a similar pace, despite differences in early weight loss.

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