Obstetrics, like other branches of medicine, is a mixture of exciting advances and frustrating impasses. One of the latter is the problem of low birth weight (LBW) babies. As de Bernabe and colleagues from Madrid point out in their review of risk factors (page 3), the incidence of LBW has not decreased in recent years despite our better understanding of the risk factors. Perhaps this is because the most important of these factors are socio-economic and the remedy for these problems lies in the hands of politicians, not doctors. Nevertheless it is the duty of obstetricians to point out that the problems of deprived women are particularly grievous in our specialty. We have previously pointed out that maternal mortality rates show a frightening difference between the richest and poorest women in single country. Internationally, perinatal mortality rates reflect the lack of resources in the poorest countries. From a technical point of view, however, the frustration for obstetricans is that we lack effective methods for either preventing preterm labour or improving fetal growth in utero.
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© 2004 Published by Elsevier Inc.