Introduction The period of intrauterine growth and development is one of the most vulnerable periods in the human life cycle. The weight of the infant at birth is a powerful predictor of infant growth and survival, and is dependent on maternal health and nutrition during pregnancy. Low birth weight (LBW) is defined as weighing less than 2,500 g at birth. In developing countries, including India, the majority of LBW infants because of intrauterine growth retardation (IUGR) are born small at term ( 37 wk of gestation) with only 6.7 per cent born prematurely. Low birth weight leads to an impaired growth of the infant with its attendant risks of a higher mortality rate, increased morbidity (1), impaired mental development (2), and the risk of chronic adult disease (3). Infants who weight 2,000-2,499 g at birth have a four-fold higher risk of neonatal death than those who weight 2,500-3,499 g. The more severe the growth restriction within the LBW category, the higher is the risk of death (1). LBW is a strong predictor for size in later life because IUGR infants seldom catch-up to normal size during childhood (4). other important causes could include maternal infections, low maternal nutrient intake, higher nutrient losses, and/or increased nutritional requirements during pregnancy (5). Maternal nutrition is an important factor from a public health point of view because it is modifiable and therefore susceptible to public health interventions. There is, therefore, an urgent need to determine ways and means to prevent LBW and its consequences. This paper reviews maternal nutritional and socio-economic factors and their role in low birth weight and IUGR.