Search tips
Search criteria 


Logo of pubhealthrepLink to Publisher's site
Public Health Rep. 1988 Mar-Apr; 103(2): 143–147.
PMCID: PMC1477960

Validation of maternally reported birth weights among 46,637 Tennessee WIC program participants.


To assess the accuracy of maternally reported birth weights, we compared birth weights reported by mothers in the Tennessee Women, Infants, and Children Supplemental Feeding Program (WIC) from 1975 to 1984 with the birth weights recorded on the corresponding Tennessee birth certificate file. Differences in birth weights between these two sources were compared for the total group and were also stratified by sociodemographic and medical variables that might influence the accuracy of birth weight recall. An accurate birth weight was defined as one reported within 1 ounce of the birth certificate birth weight. We also calculated the proportion of birth weights that would be incorrectly classified as low or normal by maternal reporting. A total of 72,245 WIC records were matched with their corresponding birth certificates. Of these, 46,637 had WIC birth weights recorded within the specified birth weight range. Eighty-nine percent of birth weights were reported within 1 ounce of birth certificate birth weights. Lower accuracy of birth weight reporting was associated with the infant's low birth weight, preterm delivery, and low Apgar scores, and with the mother's grand multiparity, less than a high school education, black race, single marital status, and young age. Only 1.1 percent of birth weights would have been incorrectly classified into low or normal birth weight categories based on maternal reporting. Overall, our results suggest that maternally reported birth weights are sufficiently accurate for research and programmatic purposes when birth certificate information is not readily available.

Full text

Full text is available as a scanned copy of the original print version. Get a printable copy (PDF file) of the complete article (792K), or click on a page image below to browse page by page. Links to PubMed are also available for Selected References.

Selected References

These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article.
  • McCormick MC. The contribution of low birth weight to infant mortality and childhood morbidity. N Engl J Med. 1985 Jan 10;312(2):82–90. [PubMed]
  • Beck GJ, van den Berg BJ. The relationship of the rate of intrauterine growth of low-birth-weight infants to later growth. J Pediatr. 1975 Apr;86(4):504–511. [PubMed]
  • Bjerre I. Physical growth of 5-year-old children with a low birth weight. Stature, weight, circumference of head and osseous development. Acta Paediatr Scand. 1975 Jan;64(1):33–43. [PubMed]
  • Fitzhardinge PM, Steven EM. The small-for-date infant. I. Later growth patterns. Pediatrics. 1972 May;49(5):671–681. [PubMed]
  • Fledelius HC. Inhibited growth and development as permanent features of low birth weight. A longitudinal study of eye size, height, head circumference, interpupillary distance and exophthalmometry, as measured at age of 10 and 18 years. Acta Paediatr Scand. 1982 Jul;71(4):645–650. [PubMed]
  • Nilsen ST, Finne PH, Bergsjø P, Stamnes O. Males with low birthweight examined at 18 years of age. Acta Paediatr Scand. 1984 Mar;73(2):168–175. [PubMed]
  • Villar J, Belizán JM, Spalding J, Klein RE. Postnatal growth of intrauterine growth retarded infants. Early Hum Dev. 1982 Jul;6(3):265–271. [PubMed]
  • Fitzhardinge PM, Steven EM. The small-for-date infant. II. Neurological and intellectual sequelae. Pediatrics. 1972 Jul;50(1):50–57. [PubMed]
  • Harvey D, Prince J, Bunton J, Parkinson C, Campbell S. Abilities of children who were small-for-gestational-age babies. Pediatrics. 1982 Mar;69(3):296–300. [PubMed]
  • Axelsson G, Rylander R. Validation of questionnaire reported miscarriage, malformation and birth weight. Int J Epidemiol. 1984 Mar;13(1):94–98. [PubMed]
  • GODDARD KE, BRODER G, WENAR C. Reliability of pediatric histories. A preliminary study. Pediatrics. 1961 Dec;28:1011–1018. [PubMed]
  • Hoekelman RA, Kelly J, Zimmer AW. The reliability of maternal recall. Mother's remembrance of their infant's health and illness. Clin Pediatr (Phila) 1976 Mar;15(3):261–265. [PubMed]
  • Tilley BC, Barnes AB, Bergstralh E, Labarthe D, Noller KL, Colton T, Adam E. A comparison of pregnancy history recall and medical records. Implications for retrospective studies. Am J Epidemiol. 1985 Feb;121(2):269–281. [PubMed]

Articles from Public Health Reports are provided here courtesy of Association of Schools of Public Health